Tuesday, August 19, 2014

2292 Eau de Friend

Do you consider your friends to be like family members? An unspoken and often unexplainable association that feels like you must be related to them? You may be genetically closer than you  think. And friendship may indeed be a form of kinship.

Researchers recently did a big study, from a DNA perspective, about what it is on a biological level that makes friends friends. The similarities in gene signatures equated to 1% of a person's total genetic makeup. If that sounds small remember chimpanzees and humans share about 96% of their genetic makeup. So what's left can be crucial.

1% means friends are roughly as related as fourth cousins, relatives who share great-great-great grandparents. You and your friends ancestors may have been related around the Civil War. 

So how do you find each other? The scientists found that friends were most genetically similar to each other in the genes related to their sense of smell. They speculated that may draw people of similar tastes to congregate in the same place.

By similar tastes they mean similar smell preferences. 

So if you like the smell of fresh-roasted coffee but the grind at Caffe Vita seems more acrid than Olympic Crest Coffee, you may find a bird of a feather at your roast of choice.

That may be why groups of folks in coffee shops or bowling alleys look alike. Or Walmarts. Sweatpants aren't slovenliness. They're just dressing like you dress around family members. 

It's another verification of the importance of the sense of smell though. We use it to not only find foods we like, but friends. 

Hmm. We also share a lot of genes with mammals generally, including dogs. Maybe they're the same genes responsible for when dogs smell one another's behinds.  

America, ya gotta love it.

No comments: