Human-Chimp DNA Comparison

Chimpanzee Artwork

Interview with Geneticist Dr. Jeffrey P. Tomkins

by Brian Thomas


Brian:
 I’m joined by Dr. Jeff Tomkins, who’s been a geneticist at ICR for over nine years. What motivates you to do this type of intense research?

Dr. Tomkins: My motivation started when I arrived here and was given the task of researching the human-chimpanzee similarity issue because people ask about this in churches. They hear the claim that humans and chimps are 98 to 99% similar. People want to know if that’s true. Before working here, I’d not investigated that issue. I ran a genome center for over five years and investigated various plants and animals but never the human-chimpanzee comparison. I went into it with an open mind and began reading all the literature on the subject—this started about eight years ago. I looked at the top six scientific publications that proposed a 98 to 99% DNA similarity between modern humans and modern chimpanzees.

Brian: A 98 to 99% genetic similarity between modern humans and modern chimps—why is that important?

Dr. Tomkins: It’s very important to theoretical evolutionists. The 98 to 99% claim is a theory—it’s speculative. They need a similarity that close to have humans and chimps evolve in the alleged three- to six-million-year timespan from a supposed human-chimpanzee common ancestor. Their statistical models need that 98 to 99% similarity.

Brian: What did you find in the literature?

Dr. Tomkins: The first thing I noticed when I began reading these articles was that researchers were throwing out a lot of data. They were cherry-picking the areas of DNA between humans and chimps that were highly similar and throwing out areas, including areas that would not line up properly. Areas that don’t line up are dissimilar. When I researched the data, I was coming up with DNA similarities between 81 to 86% when I included the dissimilar data. I published a paper on this. This is way outside the realm of theoretical evolution.

Brian: What should the evolutionary community say about this?

Dr. Tomkins: They have reacted to a lot of my research since that first paper. There’s a lot of DNA sequence data that is publicly available in databases. I began working with the data myself, and over a number of years I refined my techniques. I used an algorithm developed by evolutionists that turned out to be a bad algorithm—so there’s been a lot of trial and error. But I finally got to the point where I published a paper in 2016. It was the most comprehensive study I’ve done yet, and I looked at all 101 data sets that went into originally building the chimpanzee genome.

I sampled 25,000 sequences at random from each of the data sets and then began analyzing and comparing them to human. Over half of the data sets were extremely similar to human, and the other half were extremely dissimilar to human. It appeared the initial chimpanzee genome was contaminated with human DNA, which is a huge problem in genomics.

There’s a number of studies by secular researchers showing that many public DNA databases, from bacteria to fish, have significant levels of human contamination. Human DNA literally gets into the samples. Contamination is a major issue. Human DNA comes from researchers’ fingers, coughing, sneezing, etc., and it gets into the samples. Now researchers are taking greater steps to alleviate that problem. This was especially prevalent back in the earliest phases of genome projects, when the chimpanzee was sequenced…

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