The Discovery and Implications of Orphan Genes

The goal of this paper is to review some significant findings from the analysis of genetic sequence data over the last few decades. These results have surprised many biologists and are believed by many to challenge the key assumptions about how life came to exist on this planet. In particular, these recent findings indicate that the diversity of genetic information across the entire range of life forms is much greater than previously known and that this information in the form of protein-coding genes shows that all forms of life are much more distinct from each other at a very fundamental level than ever was previously understood. These results call into question specific key assumptions that make up the evolutionary explanation for life: