Menschliche Evolution: Schwer zu reparieren

MADISON –Menschen sind zweifellos komplex, und sie sind stolz darauf. Unsere biologische Überlegenheit steht, so meinen wir, außer Zweifel. Durch ein kompliziertes Netz von Interaktionen sind unsere biologischen Funktionen erstaunlich gut reguliert und beständig gegenüber externen Veränderungen. Im Gegensatz zu anderen Arten scheinen wir durch Willenskraft und Intellekt in der Lage zu sein, unsere Umgebung zu verändern, um die Folgen unserer abnehmenden Fitness auszugleichen.

Trotzdem sind wir als Art möglicherweise dem Untergang geweiht, und dies gerade wegen der Art und Weise, auf die unsere Komplexität entstanden ist. Wie der Wissenschaftsautor Philip Ball schreibt, scheint die Natur eine Zeitbombe aktiviert zu haben, gegen die unsere Komplexität nur eine kurzfristige Abhilfe ist.

Um das Problem zu verstehen, müssen wir untersuchen, wie Menschen auf der molekularen Ebene beschaffen sind, und unsere Struktur mit der anderer Arten wie z.B. Einzellern vergleichen, die wir oft als “rudimentär” bezeichnen. Diese Analyse führt uns zur Untersuchung von Proteinen – unserer zellulären Bausteine und Träger biologischer Funktionen – bei sehr unterschiedlichen Arten. Proteine gleicher Abstammung, die “Orthologe” genannt werden und bei verschiedenen Arten vorkommen, eignen sich gut zum Vergleich.

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