I’ve been really impressed by the amount of knowledge that’s gleaned by simply sequencing the genome of one species – that of the human. 

The surprises we’ve gained from that are immense but think about how humans are embedded in the fabric of the planet.  We eat plants and animals.  We live with plants and animals.  We obtain diseases from plants and animals.  They obtain diseases from each other.  They eat each other. 

There’s a woven web of ecology that ties humans deeply to the rest of the living things on this planet.  If our genome is important then the genomes of all those other organisms must be important for understanding that fabric of life, the ecology of the planet. 

As we dig into this there is this pervasive realization that Darwin was right – that all living things are genetically related.  We are all of one original genome.  So the human genome is just the tip of this great bushy tree of life that started 3.8 billion years ago and today is manifest by millions of species living in all sorts of ecosystems – high in the sky and deep in the Earth that underpin and support the nature of life on the planet today. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.