According to the boffins' analysis, most parts of the human and chimp (Pan troglodytes) genome are very similar, differing by "less than one per cent" in gene number. But the human male's Y chromosome is hugely more complex than that of our remote arboreal cousins.
The chimp Y chromosome has only two-thirds as many distinct genes or gene families as the human Y chromosome and only 47% as many protein-coding elements.
The massive divergence between the relatively basic chimp male chromosome and the complex, information-packed one found in men is theorised to be the result of rapid evolution taking place over the six to seven million years since humanity's remote ancestors split off from those of chimps.
"If you're marching along the human chromosome 21, you might as well be marching along the chimp chromosome 21. It's like an unbroken piece of glass," Page tells Nature. "But the relationship between the human and chimp Y chromosomes has been blown to pieces."
What this means, of course, is that women are in fact much closer genetically to being chimps than men are.
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