Our Fallen Genomes

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Science  01 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6158, pp. 564-565
DOI: 10.1126/science.1246942

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Few human conceits are as relentlessly undermined by science as humans' naïve assumptions about our own perfection. Charles Darwin abolished one such set of assumptions by showing that “inferior creations” are man's evolutionary cousins. However, Darwin's theory of evolution ultimately abetted a modern conceit—that the genomes in our cells are highly optimized end products of evolution. Genome sequencing is now challenging this view on many levels. On page 632 of this issue, McConnell et al. show that somatic mutations are abundant in neurons in the human brain (1).