Time: A team of scientists have uncovered a mystery that could explain why there are so many people around.
The research team, led by Dr Paul Stoeckl, has used advanced imaging techniques to find out why we’re all here.
The findings, published in the journal Science, could offer clues to the origins of life on Earth.
The team found evidence that we have a common ancestor that is in the midst of a major change in its genetic code.
“The most important finding was that the genetic code changes are related to the formation of complex tissues,” Dr Stoeet says.
“These changes may also be a mechanism for regulating the rate of cell division, which in turn regulates the size and complexity of our cells.”
They also found evidence of a similar change in the DNA of animals.
The changes in DNA were caused by a process called nucleotide exchange.
“We see that there is a rapid exchange of nucleotides between different chromosomes,” Dr Paul says.
The researchers analysed the DNA sequences of over 100 different species of fish, and found that they had different DNA sequences, with the DNA on the top of the food chain.
“This suggests that the evolution of life has had an important role in shaping the genetic material in our cells,” Dr Martin says.
Dr Paul also found that certain types of animals have different DNA patterns.
“If we look at animals with an unusual pattern, we can say something about their environment,” he says.
He says the scientists also found the DNA in some animals may not be identical to what it is in others.
“In some animals the DNA appears to be more common than it is found in the rest of the animal,” he said.
Dr Stueckl says he hopes that the new research will help scientists understand the origin of life.
“One of the major reasons we are here on Earth is to look for life, but in the process we have lost some of our own,” he explains.
“Now we can ask what happened to the DNA that was originally present in the environment.”
Dr Paul has previously suggested that the DNA could have been shared by life on the planet billions of years ago.
“Life may have lived on other planets and this DNA was the basis of the organisms that survived,” he told ABC’s Four Corners.