8 Animals (and Plants!) Surprisingly Genetically Related to Humans

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Written by Patrick MacFarland

Published: May 28, 2024

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The human race is a very complicated, interesting, and frankly, wild race. We have evolved from single-cell organisms to creatures that can think on their own. Humans have large brains, which is why they can think cognitively and do things that many animals cannot do. Of course, humans came from somewhere. Scientists have determined that humans evolved from monkeys and more closely related, champs. When it comes to genetics, humans are also related to other creatures and also plants, believe it or not. This might surprise you, but you may have some of the same genes as your pet dog, Rover. Let’s take a look at the eight surprising things genetically related to humans. We’ll also include chimps on the list for comparative purposes, even though it’s not surprising.


Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Game Reserve - Uganda, East Africa

Chimpanzees are the animals most closely related to humans.

When it comes to genetics, chimps and humans are the closest ones related. A whopping 98.8% of chimpanzees’ genes are exactly the same as humans. Of course, it makes sense. Humans and chimps are descendants of one species. The species lived millions of years ago, however, eventually, this species evolved into two different ones. The DNA has largely stayed the same, except for a few changes. According to the American Museum of Natural History, the most notable differences that have changed over time have been appearance and behavioral attributes. This high number has made scientists curious about other animal gene similarities, as well.


Dogs and humans share about 94% of the same genes.

This is probably one of the most surprising facts that you may come across. Dogs share more than 17,000 special genes with humans. They are called orthologs and these orthologues usually are derived from the same ancestor, according to the Dog Aging Project. Even though dogs are just our pets, there are so many similarities. One of the similarities is our genes and what happens when our oxygen levels get too low. Dogs and humans share the same gene response. Although not identical, other genes are similar, which has caused scientists to study dogs’ and human health similarities.


Cats and humans share about 90% of the same genes.

Not only is your dog similar in the amount of genes that you have, but your cat also shares a high percentage of genes with humans. In 2007, scientists determined that Abyssinian domestic cats had 90% of similar or identical genes with humans. This is because cats and humans share a common ancestor from millions of years ago. Furthermore, scientists found that an overwhelming amount of genomes are also structured the same way as humans.


Cows and humans share about 80% of the same genes.

In a 2009 study published in the journal Science, scientists determined that a whopping 80% of 22,000 genes of a cow were similar to that of humans. The study was comprehensive — a total of 300 scientists from 25 countries participated in the research to ensure everything mapped out correctly.


Little pet: mouse on arm. Long haired decorative little mouse. Home animal, fun pet. Cute mice. Bicolor splashed mouse on white background. Decorative satin mouse. Photo of mice, pet. Animal and hand

Mice and humans share 67% of total genes with one another.

Scientists love studying mice. Many products are usually tested on mice before they are tested on humans and one of the reasons why is because humans share a strong percentage of genes with mice. A whopping 85% of protein-encoding genes are similar to one another, whereas noncoding genes amount to only 50%.


Chickens share about 60% of genes with humans.

Scientists began to map out the genes of chickens and humans to find out how much in common they have. What scientists found out from studying the red jungle fowl is that there are quite a bit of similarities between birds and mammals. The similarities happen to be related in several proteins that both chickens and humans have. Researchers determine that immune response proteins are found in both birds and people.

Fruit Flies

fruit flies eating fruit

Fruit flies share about 60% of genes with humans.

These tiny insects are studied profusely because of the similarities between them and humans. Researchers determined that many diseases that humans have are also ones that fruit flies have. This has made scientists turn their attention to fruit flies and study them carefully. Many break-throughs when it comes to diseases can come from studying these insects.


Bunch of bananas isolated on white background with clipping path and full depth of field.

Bananas surprisingly share about 60% of genes with humans.

There are various genes that bananas have that are identical to the genes that humans have. Some of the genes that are identical include the genes that replicate DNA, as well as the genes that control the cell cycle. It is important to note that while genes are similar or identical, the DNA makeup of bananas and humans is only 1.2% similar.

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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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