Even though humans no longer have any use of tails, we still have the tailbone in our bodies. I started thinking whether it is possible for human DNA to have genes which produce feathers or other animal or bird-like features.
Are The Genes For Feathers In Human Dna? Does Anyone Care To Argue For Or Against The Idea That The Genes For All Life Are Present, But Not Usually Expressed, In All Other Forms Of Life, In Our Dna?
Although it may be your dream to fly without any artificial aid, I would like to let you know that humans don’t have any genes which allow us to grow feathers. In fact, there aren’t any mammals with this feature. As a vertebrate, humans only have genes which are alpha-keratin. Birds and reptiles are different, as they have beta-keratin.
Keratin is a type of protein, which is found in skin-like structures, such as feathers, scales, hooves, nails, horns, and hair. Beta-keratins, found in birds, form pleated, rigid structures, known as beta-sheets. As skin is extremely important to vertebrates, their genes went through several duplications during evolution. For example, the beta-keratins in birds (responsible for formation of feathers) came from the keratins which create scales in reptiles.
Human beings don’t possess beta-keratins, due to which you will never grow feathers. At the same time, you don’t have the necessary genes which create the complex feather-like structure.
I would also like to argue your point by approaching your question from a different perspective. Every species had specific genes which were useful to their ancestors. For example, your wisdom teeth were useful in chewing rough food, such as meat, nuts, roots, and leaves. However, due to the process of natural selection, you no longer needed wisdom teeth. Due to this reason, they continued to mutate, until they reach a state where they become non-functional.
Now, if you were to track the lineage of any mammals, you will never find any ancestor with feathers. It is safe to say that mammals, never had these genes, which makes them grow feathers. As our ancestors had tails, we still have those genes in our DNA. They continue to express up to a certain point, which is why you find images of babies with small tails.
How does your body suppress the genes responsible for your tail? When you are an embryo, you do have a small tail. Most of the time, the tail will dissolve, and get reabsorbed. However, there are situations, when this process fails to take place, which results in a little tail. The reason why this process takes place is that the genes which remove the tail from your body get suppressed.
Again, you can look at our hair, which is all over our body, like fur. However, the hair is so thin and small, that you never call it fur. However, when you are an embryo, your hair is longer and thicker, as it is more active. Once they start developing, the long and thick hair will fall.