Human cerebrum genes may have come from ‘junk DNA’

Scientists once considered much of the human genome “junk” because much of its genetic code does not give rise to any proteins, the complex molecules tasked with keeping cells running. However, it has since been discovered that this so-called garbage DNA plays important roles in cells, and in a new study, researchers report that humans may actually have junk DNA to thank for our exceptionally large brains.

The research, published Monday (January 2) in the journal Natural ecology and evolution (opens in a new tab)suggesting that the genes that made it possible human brains growing large lobes and complex information networks may have originally arisen from junk DNA. In other words, at some point the “junk” picked up the ability to code for proteins, and the new proteins may have been critical for the human brain development.

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