Humans are so well designed!

May 4, 2009 | By | 5 Replies More

I saw this snippet on my New Scientist RSS feed. Some researchers, investigating methods to improve IVF success rates, have discovered that contrary to popular belief, chromosomal abnormalities, and hence miscarriages, are not abnormal occurrences, but are in fact the norm.

As women age, their eggs are more likely to have the wrong number of chromosomes, which can lead to miscarriages. But when Joris Vermeersch from the Centre for Human Genetics in Leuven, Belgium, and colleagues examined 23 embryos from nine young, fertile couples who were undergoing IVF for screening purposes, they found that 21 had chromosomal abnormalities, suggesting these are in fact the norm (Nature Medicine, DOI: 10.1038/nm.1924).

Obviously further research must be done to determine if this was an outlier event, or is indeed a population-normal metric.

I can only presume god was just being mean when he said ‘go forth and multiply’ – since he must have known that our ability to multiply was broken.


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Category: Evolution, Human animals, Medicine, Sex

About the Author ()

I'm a technophile with an enduring interest in almost anything real or imagined. I suffer fools badly, and love trashy science fiction, plot-free action movies, playing guitar, and baking (especially scones. You haven't lived 'til you've eaten my scones. I've recently undertaken bread, and am now in danger of gaining in a matter of weeks the 60 pounds I've lost in the past 2 years). My wife & I are Scottish, living north of Atlanta, GA, with two children, one dog, and a growing collection of gadgets. I work for a living.

Comments (5)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Or maybe God was well-intentioned, but was not A) omniscient or B) omnipotent.

    Maybe we got one of the lesser gods.

    That said, it's pretty amazing that the system works at all. In particular, consider that the completely unfolded human set of chromosomes would stretch about six FEET! And that it is tightly folded up into a package so small that it is invisible to the eye. This real life "miracle" makes turning water into wine look rather mundane.

  2. Kristy Wendt says:

    Gotta keep "abnormal," "normal," "right," and "wrong" relative to the context of evolution, I think, at least when you're talking about it in the context of evolution. The wrong number of chromosomes doesn't just cause miscarriages, it causes tulips.

  3. Tony Coyle says:

    Kristy: LOL!

  4. grumpypilgrim says:

    Chromosome number provides fascinating support for evolutionary theory. Scientists once wondered how humans could be so closely related to apes when humans have 23 chromosomes and apes all have 24 chromosomes. Turns out that human chromosome number 2 appears to be an end-to-end fusion of two ancestral chromosomes (see, e.g.,… thus making the apparent numerical mismatch easy to explain.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Grumpy: I just recently dug deep and was equally impressed with the evidence based on various aspects of the human genome. See, for example, this post regarding Kenneth Miller's terrific new book, Only a Theory.

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