Decoding the Debris

For decades most of the human genome (98 percent) has been considered "junk" DNA, with only about 2 percent coding for proteins. The geneticist Susumu Ohno first coined the term junk DNA in 1972. He stated, "The earth is strewn with fossil remains of extinct species; is it a wonder that our genome too is filled with the remains of extinct genes?" That perspective is changing radically. When the first version of the human genome was reported in 2001, scientists found far fewer genes than they had expected. (Genes are packets of information in the DNA responsible for making proteins.) Although nearly all cells in the body have the same DNA content, they need to make certain proteins at certain times and under certain conditions. What regulatory processes are keeping all this genetic activity straight? To answer that question, scientists needed to take a much closer look at the other 98 percent of human DNA.

The past decade of research has produced a cornucopia of surprises, forcing evolutionists to rethink their position on junk DNA. Yet the opposition among dyed-in-the-wool evolutionists remains fierce, continuing to hinder research into the secrets of the human body and the nature of disease.

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