DNA: What Have You Done for Me Lately?

WellsHuffington Post Blog from Spencer Wells-I recently turned 44. As with all of one’s birthdays, a milestone like this is a chance to gaze backward and assess, as well as an opportunity to look to the future and imagine possibilities. As I do this, though, I’m cognizant of a friend who is being celebrated for turning 60 this year. She’s been in my life since before I was born, and she will be around long after I’ve faded into distant memory. But, in the way that humans do when we describe a feature in the natural world, we’ve assigned to her a birthday based on when we first recognized how special she was. I’m talking, of course, about deoxyribonucleic acid — DNA, our blueprint, the hardware/software combination that keeps us on the straight and narrow, controlling our development as we grow from fertilized egg to adult, as well as our biological evolution as a species.