500 million years ago, the genetic code in one of human’s great ancestors mutated by two letters; that change sparked the evolutionary path resulting in modern humans.
"If those two mutations had not happened, our bodies today would have to use different mechanisms to regulate pregnancy, libido, the response to stress, kidney function, inflammation, and the development of male and female characteristics at puberty," Said Joe Thornton, a professor of human genetics, ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago.
Human proteins are a current hot topic for scientists looking to trace back human evolution. Scientists It traced back a specific protein related to human reproduction over 500-million year. At the end of this chain, researchers discovered the point in which the protein mutated from its successor.
This seemingly minuscule shift in a single protein may be soon known as the tipping point in human evolution. The small shift changed the function of the protein by allowing it more easily adapt and evolve. In the 500-million years since that initial genetic shift, that same protein has seen over 70,000 additional modifications. None of those future mutations would have been possible without this initial shift, which changed the DNA’s mutation light to “on”.
What makes evolution such a compelling theory is its reliance on the concept of essentially-infinite time. Without this one seemingly minuscule gene mutation, human being may very well have never existed. Or maybe the Earth would have just had to spin for another 500-million years until a different mutation started a path to intelligent life on Earth?
I suppose I won’t bore you with my English-degree knowledge of the world. Still, science continues to be pretty rad.