X-Men and Women
Are you a mutant? British researchers have discovered that your genetic code contains 60 random variations from those of your parents. Though most of the physical diversity we see between people results from the rearrangement of parents’ genes in their children, all diversity was originally born of mutation.
Mutations randomly provide the handicaps and benefits on which natural selection works. Before the study, geneticists had hypothesized that 100-200 mutations occurred per generation. The results of this study suggest that we are evolving at a slower rate than was previously thought.
Though the process for mapping human genes is steadily becoming cheaper, finding mutations is still an expensive task, as only one mutation crops up for every 100 million nucleotides. Data for this study came from the 1000 Genomes Project, which used cutting-edge technology to map the genomes of 2,500 people. The report does not speculate on factors that influence these mutations, or whether the rate of human mutation changes over time.
Image: "DNA" by ynse on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing