Believe It Or Not, Humans and Chickens are 60% Genetically Similar

Posted by TF Oren

Reality check: we're not nearly as unique as we like to think we are.

At least, not genetically.

In order to demonstrate the negligible amount of genetic variation that exists from person to person, scientist Riccardo Sabatini printed out his friend Craig's entire genetic code and compiled it into books--a collection of 172 books comprising a whopping 262,000 pages, to be exact.

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His point was that if you were to do the same for every person, only about 500 of those 262,000 pages would be unique to each individual. In other words, about 99.9% of our DNA is identical to every other person. This negligible amount of variation among individuals is also true of other living organisms, like dogs or giraffes.

So, where and how do our feathered friends fit into this picture? Well, according to the International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium, about 60% of chicken genes have an analog in the human genetic code.

Although humans have more DNA than chickens do, both species have about the same amount of genes, and as it turns out, the basic structure and function of certain kinds of chicken cells closely mirrors that of human cells. The genes that govern the reproductive and immune systems of both species, however, showed few similarities.

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To contextualize the 60% genetic similarity between humans and chickens, consider this: our closest living evolutionary relative is the chimpanzee. Humans and chimpanzees are 96% genetically similar.

Want to learn more about our genetic similarities to the chicken? You can check out the International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium's 2004 paper here.

Believe It Or Not, Humans and Chickens are 60% Genetically Similar