Saturday, March 12, 2011

How the Human Penis Lost its Spines

Somewhere between 7 million years ago – when we split from chimpanzees on our evolutionary journey – and 800,000 years ago – when we split from Neanderthals – humans lost the spines that chimps and many other animals have on their penises. In some cases these consist of small keratin hard nodules and in others actual sharp spines. The mystery of how this happened has just been unraveled in some research by Stanford and Penn State University scientists.

Chimpanzees are not very different to us genetically, but according to researchers, it is actually the missing parts of regulatory or non-coding DNA that make us human. In other words, it's about what we don't have in common rather than what we do. Another find was not only the lack of penile spines but the discovery that some regions of our brains are larger due to the same lack of DNA coding areas.

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