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A team of scientists from Japan and Germany succeeded in making a bigger neocortex in a marmoset fetus by tweaking a single gene.
The neocortex is the part of the brain involved in spatial reasoning and language.
Let the comparisons to replicating human evolution begin!
First, the ethical consideration: the pregnancy was terminated after 100 days.
The difference between a human and monkey brain is more than just size. There are differences in the relative sizes of brain sections, the number of folds present in the brain, and neurons’ production. All of these increased after the gene-altering.
Fun fact: the larger the brain, the more folds are required to fit inside the skull.
Turning this into a story: what if super-smart monkeys take over the world? Oh wait, that’s already been done.
What about an alternate history where it wasn’t just humans who evolved courtesy of the gene? A fantasy story about an Earth populated by the four types of great apes: gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and humans.
The story could start millions of years after the split, in what appears to be a modern world. There are four great civilizations where a specific type of ape is most common. Each of the governments deals with other species in different ways.
Humans keep gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees in designated reserves.
Gorillas allow all species free reign over their lands.
Chimpanzees keep the other apes in separate reserves for each species.
Orangutans subjugate the other species, making them slaves.
The four main characters in the story could be one from each species who discover mental links independent of physical distances. Similar to “Sense8.”
First, they work to find each other. Three then discover that the fourth is held a chimpanzee held in orangutan lands. The first story could revolve around trying to get them free.
Subsequent books could be about running from orangutans trying to recapture the chimpanzee, fighting back against a government organization that wants to recreate their links for their own benefit, and discovering when apes are born with the connection.