Lost in Evolution

The discovery of an ancient Neu5Gc containing chondroitin glycosaminoglycan which was made by ancient humans and chimpanzees but went extinct following a mutation in the gene for the synthesizing enzyme is shedding new lights on tracing ancestral human lineage.

The occurrence of this ancient glycan has been detected in various samples, including bones, some of them being dated 4-million-year-old. Neu5Gc is not produced by modern humans, but it is produced by most mammals including bears, cows, and chimpanzees. Evolutionists believe that our ancestors lost the gene to produce Neu5Gc through mutation after diverging from an ancestor shared with chimpanzees.

By analysing bones belonging to various species thought to be human ancestors, evolutionary scientists hope to use this sugar-related molecule preserved in fossils to trace human evolutionary history.