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    Why Your Penis Has No Spine
    By Hank Campbell | March 9th 2011 11:00 AM | 5 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

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    Regulatory DNA changes have made a huge impact on the evolution of human-specific traits.  A study in the latest issue of Nature covers not just the usual stuff, like what has been added in evolution to make us distinctly 'human', but rather what was lost.

    We're obviously different from animals and the researchers set out to find some molecular occurrences that are present in chimpanzees and other mammals but not in people - they found 583, which they call hCONDELs, 510 which were validated, mostly in nonfunctional DNA.  One instance sure to catch attention is deletion of a penile spine enhancer from the human androgen receptor (AR) gene, a  change correlated with a change in human anatomy -  namely loss of penile spines. 

    Even more interesting for junk science infomercials and spam emails regarding genitals in the future, they tested the AR expression pattern and found that the chimpanzee sequence drives 'significant' reporter gene expression when tested in human foreskin fibroblasts, which means that the pathways are still present in humans.

    So why did this non-coding region of DNA get deleted?   They say it is because humans became couples and adapted monogamous reproduction and morphological characteristics followed.   So your penis has no spine because of pairbonding and increased paternal care.  Thanks, wife!

    Citation: Cory Y. McLean, Philip L. Reno, Alex A. Pollen, Abraham I. Bassan, Terence D. Capellini, Catherine Guenther, Vahan B. Indjeian, Xinhong Lim, Douglas B. Menke, Bruce T. Schaar, Aaron M. Wenger, Gill Bejerano,&David M. Kingsley, 'Human-specific loss of regulatory DNA and the
    evolution of human-specific traits',  Nature March 10, 2011 V471 p.219
    doi:10.1038/nature09774

    Comments

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    So why did this non-coding region of DNA get deleted?   They say it is because humans became couples and adapted monogamous reproduction and morphological characteristics followed.   So your penis has no spine because of pairbonding and increased paternal care.  Thanks, wife!
    Look on the bright side, at least there's nothing to fracture.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Hank
    I had to consciously resist the 'so your unit is not stiffer because your ancestors got married a million years ago' joke.  Look for it on inferior sites, though.
    Gerhard Adam
    I think it's important to note that these DNA changes reflect an increase in brain size as well as the loss of the penis spines.  If you think about it, it makes good sense, since there was an obvious selection change with increased blood flow to the penis to power the second brain that men had evolved.  :)
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Indeed, I left out the rest of the hCONDELs because I didn't want to create too many jokes from one study.
    I've been called "spineless" before (usually by an ex-wife), but now I know what they were REALLY talking about.