An anonymous reader writes: Junk DNA (or noncoding DNA) is a term for section of a DNA strand that doesn't actually do much. Huge tracts of the human genome consist of junk DNA, and researchers are now finding that it may be more useful than previously thought. "For most of the last 40 years, scientists thought that [gene duplication] was the primary way new genes were born — they simply arose from copies of existing genes. The old version went on doing its job, and the new copy became free to evolve novel functions. Certain genes, however, seem to defy that origin story. They have no known relatives, and they bear no resemblance to any other gene. ... But in the past few years, a once-heretical explanation has quickly gained momentum — that many of these orphans arose out of so-called junk DNA."
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