FIVE THIRTY EIGHT: Why That Maui Wowie Doesn’t Hit You The Same Way Every Time
Humans and chimpanzees are often described as cousins, but that analogy doesn’t quite capture the true distance in the relationship. Cousins, after all, can be kissin’ — and humans and chimpanzees aren’t into that. And, even if we were, we couldn’t make a baby. In other words, we’re different species. And yet, most of our DNA is the same. The human genome and the chimpanzee genome really only differ from each other by about 1.2 percent. The lesson: Even teeny little differences in genetic variability can matter a lot in outcome.
Which is why any discussion about the genetic variation in cannabis — the plant more commonly known as the sedate “hemp” or the sedating“marijuana” — can quickly become mind-blowing. “We have found a lot of variation in the plant,” said Daniela Vergara, a postdoctoral evolutionary biologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “We have found as much genetic variation as there is between different species, between chimpanzees and us.” Yet, somehow, despite that diversity, cannabis is still one species. All those plants, even the ones as different from each other as humanity is from chimpanity, can still make babies.[…]
Photo credit: Raul Arboleda, AFP, Getty Images