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Species cross contamination

  1. Feb 18, 2008 #1
    Has anybody seen http://de.sevenload.com/videos/GzPNcFM/DLD08-Day-2-Life-a-gene-centric-view/sliderPage/1" [Broken] conversation between Dawkins and Venter?

    Venter is claiming that there’s a constant genetic cross contamination going on between all kinds of species. About one third of the human genome, for example, has been inserted by different viruses. Different species are constantly exchanging the genetic material with each other via (mostly) viruses. (he wasn’t clear what other mechanisms play a role). To Venter, what primarily defines a species is a combination of the genes, not their content per se. (his mammalian example if you watch the video)

    Dawkins is startled, and so am I. But I’m not a biologist. Dawkins says that means you can pretty much throw out the whole taxonomic tree in existense today because there’s no way of telling which genes came from where, due to contamination. Venter agrees. Dawkins remains skeptical. Indeed, hasn't molecular evidence replaced (or significantly complemented) the fossil record in telling us what came from what and when? Regardless, they agreed to follow up with each other on this disagreement. I’m left VERY curious though, as that sounds like a very interesting debate. Does anybody here have any info to shed some light on this controversy?


    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  2. jcsd
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