Humans Less Genetically Complex than Chocolate Biscuits

Posted on 23 September 2010

Cacao joins more than 180 life forms for which scientists now have the complete genetic sequence. These include rice, wheat and poplar trees; yeast, grapes and the honeybee; chimpanzees, dogs, puffer fish and Norwegian rats; modern humans, the chicken and the laboratory mouse; and a host of microbes, including leprosy, bubonic plague and the malaria parasite. This is a gathering of knowledge that, even 20 years ago, could not have been imagined.

Humans, who consider themselves the pinnacle of creation, have only about 30,000 genes. Cacao seems to have 35,000. Wheat DNA is believed to contain 40,000 genes. It is a droll discovery that on a numerical basis, a human seems genetically less complex than a chocolate biscuit. But it was the humans who sequenced wheat and cacao, and not the other way round. So clearly, size isn’t everything.