Gene linked to walking upright

A geneticist in Turkey has traced mutations in a protein gene that directly applies to development of the central nervous system and our ability to walk upright. The article goes on to say:

“We carried out genome-wide screening on these families”, said Professor Ozcelik, “and found regions of DNA that were shared by all those family members who walk on all fours. However, we were surprised to find that genes on three different chromosomes are responsible for the condition in four different families.”

[snip]

Mutations causing VLDLR deficiency are also found in Hutterites, a group of Anabaptists who live in colonies of North America. There, however, most of the affected individuals cannot walk at all. The neurological characteristics of the affected members of the Turkish families and the Hutterites seem similar, with the most striking difference being that the Turkish individuals are able to walk on all fours, said the scientists. They hypothesize that the Hutterites may be more profoundly affected due to the deficiency in VLDLR and a neighbouring gene, and therefore lack the motor skills even for quadrupedal locomotion.

Simply put, the discovery challenges many of our preconceptions regarding the development of early man. Until I read some of the articles, I had no idea this was so widely disputed.

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