Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology (MPIEA) in Leipzig, Germany, recently concluded that differences in the expression patterns of genes distinguish humans from chimpanzees, though they share 98.7% of their DNA sequences.1 The team, led by geneticist Svante Pääbo, found that human expression patterns in the brain exhibited pronounced differences from those of chimpanzees and other apes, in effect, pointing to an accelerated rate of evolution of our mental organ.

The remarkable study received international coverage and drew attention to a young and energetic research institution that may play a leading international role in evolutionary anthropology. The MPIEA was founded in 1997 in the former East Germany as part of an attempt to create "a single research landscape," as the political catch phrase called it, in the reunited federation. Since reunification, 20 new Max Planck Institutes have been built in eastern Germany, bringing the total...

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