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1% Genetic Difference Between Humans and Chimps a “Myth”

Casey Luskin

Last July, David Tyler wrote an insightful post at ARN stating,

For over 30 years, the public have been led to believe that human and chimpanzee genetics differ by mere 1%. This ‘fact’ of science has been used on innumerable occasions to silence anyone who offered the thought that humans are special among the animal kingdom. ‘Today we take as a given that the two species are genetically 99% the same.’ However, this ‘given’ is about to be discarded.

Tyler was quoting a Science news article entitled “Relative Differences: The Myth of 1%,” which reported that “human and chimpanzee gene copy numbers differ by a whopping 6.4%.” The statistic of an alleged 1% difference between human and chimp DNA is thus quickly becoming a thing of the past. A recent post at Scientific American‘s blog states, “humans may have as little as 99% of their genes in common with one another, and, by the same analysis, as little as 95% of their genes in common with chimpanzees.” Thus, according to the article, “Humans turn out to be as genetically different from one another as it was previously thought they were different from chimps.” (emphasis added).

The implications of these differences remain to be sorted out by biologists, but those seeking to understand evolution and genetics should realize that the 99% similarity statistic between humans and chimps is now admitted to be a “myth.”


Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.