Researchers find a key gene for human intelligence

Read the ever-impressive Randall Parker over at Here is a quotation from one of his links:

Lahn and his colleagues found that the ASPM gene showed clear evidence of changes accelerated by evolutionary pressure in the lineage leading to humans, and the acceleration is most prominent in recent human evolution after humans parted way from chimpanzees.

“In our work, we have looked at evolution of a large number of genes, and in the vast number of cases, we see only weak signatures of adaptive changes,” said Lahn. “So, I was quite surprised to see that this one gene shows such strong and unambiguous signatures of adaptive evolution – more so than most other genes we’ve studied.”

By contrast, the researchers’ analyses of the ASPM gene in the more primitive monkeys and in cows, sheep, cats, dogs, mice and rats, showed no accelerated evolutionary change. “The fact that we see this accelerated evolution of ASPM specifically in the primate lineage leading to humans, and not in these other mammals, makes a good case that the human lineage is special,” said Lahn.

The bottom line: The plausibility of the view that human beings are special has just gone up.

Parker is one of the most rigorous and versatile writers in the blogosphere, here is his recent account of our greater ability to predict earthquakes.

Addendum: Read this article on exactly why monkeys have trouble with human language.