indicated that simpler organisms had a smaller number of genes. For example, bacteria and fungi range from about two to eight thousand genes. Fruit flies get up to about fourteen thousand, and mice are at twenty-five thousand. The results of the human genome project indicate the gene count for humans to be less than thirty thousand.
Of that, only 2% has recognized functionaliity...ie, represents genes that contain info for proteins. That leaves us with 98% of our DNA with no clear function (often called non-coding DNA). Since Nature abhors waste, there surely is a reason for this. In simpler animals, where instinct is a big factor in survival and behavior, the amount of DNA with no known function is much less. In fact, the simpler the organism, the less non-coding DNA there is ... maybe simpler organisms require less complicated instructions for survival.
Here's a thought. Perhaps the complexity of our thinking process is mapped out in the so-called non-coding DNA. Just think about the concept of instinct. For generations we've accepted that given a specific stimulus, animals can and do act in a
pre-programmed manner. Sure, there's some learning involved, but there's so much evidence for automatic behavior, especially in simpler species where the range of behavior is limited and easily observed. Our current view is that higher organisms learn more and rely less on instinct.
What about Man? Is he free of this pre-programmed instinct? We relegate that instinct to the 'lizard brain' deep within our psyche. An animal instinct for survival. We pride ourselves with self-consciousness, a self-awareness distinct from other animals. And we have come to rely more on learning for survival than on instinct. Yet, our DNA has the highest percentage
devoted to the non-coding portion. I wonder if you can tell when it's instinct or experience that drives us? What if everything we do is preprogrammed, just like in all those lower species that rely on instinct alone? In fact, if you think about it, we may be
the most programmed life form on the planet.