It is our diet that made us different from apes

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Wasington, Feb 3 (UNI) Humans and Apes may share common ancestors and have 99 per cent of identical genes, but our diet has made us what we are today.

Dietary patterns of human beings have played a key role in their evolution, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology said.

Humans consume a distinct diet compared to other apes. Not only do we consume much more meat and fat, but we also cook our food, they said.

To establish some of the physiological and genetic differences observed between humans and chimpanzees, researchers fed labratory mice different human and chimp diets over a period of two weeks.

The diets consisted of a raw fruit and vegetable diet fed to chimpanzees in zoos, a human diet of food served at the Institute cafeteria. Occasionally, the mice were also fed a pure fast food menu from the local McDonald's wich significantly increased their weight.

The researcers observed the effects of the cimpanzee diet on the mouse liver, which were very much distinct from that of human diet.

However, no differences were noticed in their brains.

A significant fraction of the genes that changed in the mouse livers, had previously been observed as different between humans and chimpanzees. This indicated that the differences might be the result of the difference in human and chimpanzee diets, they said in a journal publised by American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The researcers further said the protein and promoter sequences of these diet-related genes changed faster than expected, possibly because of adaptation to new diets.

However, to date, the influence of food habits on the physiological and genetic differences between humans and other apes has not been widely examined, the anthropologists said.

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