You Share 70% of Your Genes with This Slimy Worm
Many of us do not realize how much we may have in common with some creatures that are found in the deep blue sea. After researchers observed the sequenced genomes from two marine worm species, it had been suggested that humans and acorn worms may be distant cousins. When analyzing the genes from two acorn worm species, it was discovered that acorn worms share about 14,000 genes with humans, comprising approximately 70 percent of the human genome. Not only do these genes exist in humans, but also in deuterostomes such as sea stars, cephalopods, and various other animals with backbones. The 570 year old acorn worms are able to help scientists understand how genes that first appeared almost hundreds of millions of years ago control the development of different, but related physical features across animal species. Additionally, after the sequencing of the worms' genomes, scientists found 8,716 gene families in the acorn worms that are shared across all deuterostomes. There was one unique family that contained a gene cluster that was linked to feeding and breathing in acorn worms, and scientists were interested because acorn worms have special slits that they use for feeding and allow water to pass through the worm's mouth, but pass it's digestive tracts. It was found that these genes could possibly be linked to gill development and even these genes could play a role in the development of the pharynx. I believe it is truly amazing that we can have a large amount genes connected to a worm found in the sea. I still think more research should be done before we get so excited to call acorn worm our cousin, but the breakthroughs we are capable of in this generation is riveting.
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