These Chinese scientists have created eleven monkeys with human genes to make them smarter

It is not easy to talk about intelligence or for the intelligence experts themselves. Furthermore, we could say that it is one of the most complex and subtle human traits. Something that, hidden in the mysteries of genetics and education, remains a mystery. But, Bing Su, a geneticist at the Kunming Institute of Zoology, had an idea. It was not a new idea, it was that nobody had dared to carry it out.

His is dedicated to studying evolutionary processes from a genetic point of view. He has very interesting works: he has investigated how the Himalayan yaks adapted to height or how human skin has changed color as an adaptive response to the winter cold. What if he investigated what happened to intelligence?

Again ... China

Formulated on its own terms, the question was to discover at what point in our phylogenetic history our cognitive abilities had separated from those of the great apes and, for this, the researchers wondered what would happen if they introduced certain genes into the genome of some primate. that we think are related to intelligence.

They asked him and, immediately, they were able to do it. Su's team has created 11 “transgenic” macaques with copies of the human MCPH1 gene, which are suspected of playing a very important role in the development of the human brain. "This was the first attempt to understand human cognitive evolution using a transgenic monkey as a model," they explained.

And it is true, but not because it cannot, but because it is a very sensitive subject. If general research on primates is becoming increasingly difficult in the US and Europe, let alone research aimed at narrowing the differences between apes and humans. If successful, these experiments can lead us to an unprecedented ethical alley. What if, by chance or by luck, we suddenly encounter a smart macaque?

Fortunately, there is no need to worry. Yet. The researchers hoped that the transgenic monkeys would have bigger brains and better results on different tests to assess basic cognitive abilities. And not. The eleven macaques only showed better results in memory tests. Something that is not bad, but that falls far short of the intentions of its creators.

This is the great problem of these lines of research: seeking spectacularity over truth. Today, this type of experiment has a very high probability of contributing nothing to the understanding of the phenomenon they want to study. Whatever it is. In return, they expose us to very deep problems for which we have no answers of any kind.

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