I consider the existence of a broken GULO gene in humans to be the clearest evidence for human evolution - just what else is it doing there otherwise?

Are there any other examples of vestigial genes in the Human genome? Or perhaps vestigial proteins?

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    $\begingroup$ I think you are simply looking for examples of pseudogenes, right? $\endgroup$
    – Corvus
    Mar 24, 2015 at 4:49
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I guess I am :) $\endgroup$
    – tom
    Mar 24, 2015 at 5:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Corvus pseudogenes do not express. I would assume that a vestigial gene is something that is expressed but is dispensable. $\endgroup$
    Mar 24, 2015 at 11:41
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    $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG pseudogenes are often expressed. As described here and here. They just don't produce a protein. I guess they can't be strictly called vestigial genes, they might still have some effects. $\endgroup$ Mar 25, 2015 at 6:32
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    $\begingroup$ @cagliari2005 By expressed I meant formation of the original intended product which could be ncRNA or protein. $\endgroup$
    Mar 25, 2015 at 7:05

1 Answer 1


Genes that were once functional but no longer are are called pseudogenes (as Corvus pointed out in the comments).

Many genes that are similar today (homologs) are hypothesized to have come from duplication events in the past. In most cases, these duplicates diverge. The divergence can happen in several ways: 1) one retains the original function while the other obtains a novel function 2) a dosage response occurs where both (keeping the original function) become necessary for that function 3) one retains its function while the other loses all functionality.

This third group are the pseudogenes. This isn't the only way pseudogenes come to be, but it is probably the most well-characterized.

There are several resources for lists of these. I'll just point you in that direction. I assume you are interested in a particular group (i.e. genes important in development or patterning), so that you can dig more deeply into:


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