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How much DNA do we share with jellyfish?

Genetics has always fascinated scientists and curious minds alike. The study of DNA and genetic similarities between different species allows us to delve into the intricacies of life on Earth and understand the evolutionary relationships among organisms. While humans may seem vastly different from jellyfish, it might surprise you to know that we actually share a significant amount of DNA with these fascinating creatures. In this blog post, we will explore the genetic similarities between humans and jellyfish and uncover the implications of this shared genetic makeup.

Background on DNA and Genetic Similarity

Before we dive into the specifics of genetic similarities between humans and jellyfish, let’s grasp a basic understanding of DNA and its role in genetic makeup. DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the fundamental molecule of heredity in all living organisms. It carries the genetic instructions necessary for the growth, development, and functioning of organisms.

Studying genetic similarity is crucial in unraveling the complex tapestry of life on Earth. By comparing the DNA sequences of different species, scientists can determine how closely related they are in terms of evolutionary history. This information helps us understand how different species evolved and how they are interconnected in the grand tree of life.

Genetic similarity percentages provide a comparative measure of how closely two species share DNA. For instance, humans share about 97% of their DNA with chimpanzees, our closest living relatives. The percentage of genetic similarity drops as we compare humans to other animals, with cats at 90%, cows at 80%, mice at 75%, fruit flies at 60%, and surprisingly, jellyfish also at 60%.

Genetic Similarities between Humans and Jellyfish

At first glance, it might seem improbable that humans and jellyfish have a relatively high genetic similarity of 60%. After all, jellyfish are marine invertebrates, lacking a backbone, while humans are complex mammals. However, this shared genetic makeup is not as baffling as it may seem.

The genetic similarity between humans and jellyfish can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, both species share a common ancestry, dating back to the early origins of life on Earth. It is fascinating to think that millions of years ago, a tiny common ancestor gave rise to both humans and jellyfish, setting the stage for the shared genetic elements we observe today.

Furthermore, certain genetic elements have been conserved over millions of years of evolution. These elements, known as conserved genes or sequences, are passed down through generations and can be found in both humans and jellyfish. While the functions and expressions of these genes may differ between the two species, their presence suggests a shared genetic heritage.

Moreover, researchers have identified specific genes or genetic sequences that are common between humans and jellyfish. These shared genes can serve as a bridge between the two species, highlighting the underlying similarities in their genetic makeup. They might be responsible for encoding proteins or performing certain biological functions that are essential for both humans and jellyfish.

Implications and Significance of the Genetic Similarity

The genetic similarity between humans and jellyfish holds profound implications for our understanding of evolutionary relationships and shared biological processes. By recognizing and exploring this shared genetic makeup, scientists can gain insights into the evolutionary history of both species and discover commonalities in their biological functions.

Identification of specific genes that are responsible for common traits or functions can be particularly intriguing. It allows scientists to unravel the genetic basis behind shared characteristics, such as locomotion, sensory perception, or even certain diseases. By studying these genes and their functions, researchers might unearth potential biomedical applications or implications that could benefit both humans and jellyfish.

Understanding the genetic similarity between humans and jellyfish also sheds light on the interconnectedness of Earth’s biodiversity. It reinforces the fact that all living organisms are part of a complex web of life, sharing a common genetic foundation that has evolved over millions of years. This knowledge can foster a greater appreciation for the diversity and unity of life on our planet.

Limitations and Challenges

While genetic similarity provides valuable insights into the relationships between species, it is essential to acknowledge its limitations and challenges. Despite sharing a significant percentage of DNA, humans and jellyfish also have unique genetic differences that contribute to their distinct traits and characteristics. These differences highlight the diversity and adaptability of life on Earth.

Scientists also face challenges in accurately assessing and interpreting genetic similarity. Factors such as variations in DNA sequencing techniques and the vastness of genome complexity can affect the precision of results. Moreover, genetic similarity percentages only provide a general measure of overall resemblance and do not account for specific genetic variations or regulatory elements.

Further research and investigation are necessary to confirm and expand upon the findings of genetic similarity between humans and jellyfish. Deeper exploration into the specific genes and genetic sequences that are shared between the two species could unveil more profound insights into their evolutionary relationship and shared biological functionality.


The genetic similarities between humans and jellyfish, despite our apparent differences, open up a world of intrigue and exploration. While we share only 60% of our DNA with these mesmerizing creatures, it highlights the remarkable interconnectedness of life on Earth. Understanding the genetic similarities between humans and jellyfish enables us to uncover the evolutionary tapestry that binds us together and offers insights into shared biological processes and functions. As we continue to unravel the mysteries of our genetic makeup, let us marvel at the beauty and complexity of life and its interconnectedness across species.


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