Stumbling upon past repulsive events, like thousands of years of human trafficking, may avert your attention for a minute, but the ghastly topic has a subtle way of sparking your curiosity. Knowing about the past is important—especially our evolutionary past. Like history, we learn about our evolutionary past so we can become knowledgeable and have the ability to quickly halt or possibly avoid lethal viruses in the future. As Heidmann stated, “This knowledge will help us treat terrible diseases…viruses can provide answers to questions we have never even asked.” Mapping the human genome revealed there is over four times the amount of viral DNA as the amount of crucial DNA for survival. Knowing more about viruses embedded into our DNA not only allows us to discover more our ancestors, but also more about ourselves.
Heidmann believes a resurrected virus can tell us about the original evolution of humanity, It has to the potential to allow researchers to gain insight on more about the DNA of the people who were infected by the virus. Viruses have also helped us evolve as much as our own genes have. Heidmann says, “I am not certain that we would have survived as a species without them.” The resurrected Phoenix virus allowed us to discover how HIV works, and more importantly, how we work and have evolved. Pathogens have shaped how we are today and possibly allowed humans to eventually develop a placenta and give live birth. Weiss stated,“If Charles Darwin reappeared today, he might be surprised to learn that humans are descended from viruses as well as from apes.” The biggest difference in genes between humans and apes are that they carry many copies of the Pan troglodytes endogenous. We have evolved to fight this virus with the gene TRIM5, but this gene has also made us susceptible to HIV.
Researchers were able to isolate the nucleotides that distinguished each version of the virus and pieced them together and discluded the defected parts. However, viruses, like HIV, haven’t currently infected people’s germ-lines cells and it is still a mystery to researchers what factors would allow the virus to do so and become hereditary. It is also uncertain if speeding up the life cycle of the HIV virus would create too many errors and mutations that would make it fully dysfunctional. Many scientist however have come to the consensus that, “ Viruses may be well be the unseen creator that most likely did contribute to making us human.”
Viruses are without a doubt a threat, but the possibility of mishandling the virus should not impede researchers from the insightful knowledge reassembled viruses provide. We have been at battle with viruses as long as we can remember. If we were scared of studying and interacting with viruses or just let our fears hold us back , we will miss opportunities that may potentially be life-changing. Harmit Malik believes, “The knowledge you gain from resurrecting something that has not been alive for millions of years has to be immensely valuable.”