Scientists originally applied the term “junk DNA” to any section of DNA that appeared non-functional. Through advances in genomics, the definition has shifted. The term is currently used for a section of the DNA that may have functioned in the past but no longer functions. (See Who Was Adam? for an extensive discussion of the major types of junk DNA—pseudogenes, endogenous retroviruses, SINEs and LINEs—and the mechanisms thought to have generated them.) Because some identical segments of so-called junk DNA occur in a wide range of related organisms (for example, psi GULO in multiple primates), any researchers view it as evidence for the common ancestry of these organisms, a basic tenet of evolutionary theory.
The concept of junk DNA seems to provide strong evidence for an evolutionary model and against a creation model. Such a conclusion assumes, however, that this genetic material really is junk. A growing body of research says otherwise. Biologists and biochemists continue to find evidence of function in every class of junk DNA. It appears that even the quantity of junk DNA in various organisms has been fine-tuned for a purpose. In other words, it serves as evidence for design. Although many scientists still use junk DNA to argue for an evolutionary model, the data seems a close and comfortable fit with a creation model.
Featured Articles on Genomics
January 31, 2011
Graduation, marriage, the birth of a child: these are all climactic events in a person’s life. Likewise, there have been a number of highlights in the history of life on Earth. One is the birth of complex or eukaryotic cells.
May 9, 2007
Contrary to the claims made by many scientists, evolution is a theory in crisis.
January 11, 2001
When biologists compare the genomes of organisms they often find that the same pseudogenes appear in corresponding locations of genomes, juxtaposed to the same genes.
June 30, 2000
According to the biological evolutionary paradigm, molecular evolution parallels organic evolution.
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