The term "junk DNA" has been under attack lately, but a pair of geneticists are now making the case for this much maligned and misunderstood concept. There are significant chunks of our DNA, they argue, that really are utterly useless.
In the human genome, only about 2% of our DNA are genes involved in coding the proteins essential to our existence. The other 98% is noncoding DNA, often called junk DNA because there's no clear purpose for it. That name might seem a bit pejorative, but a new study of the bladderwort genome suggests it's oddly…
Humans and chimpanzees share up to 99% of the same DNA, which is particularly remarkable considering we don't look anything like each other. The reason behind our vast difference in appearance is all thanks to our seemingly useless so-called "junk" DNA.
There's one tiny fragment of DNA that pretty much all vertebrates and invertebrates share. It's the only piece of DNA known to be a billion years old — and it still has a role to play in shaping our genes.