Researchers inserted human genes into the brains of monkeys. They claimed that this experiment caused the animals' brains to expand and have more wrinkles.

Scientists Insert Human Genes In Monkey' Brains to Make Them Larger and Have More Wrinkles
(Photo : Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
A macaque monkey catches knives as it works with a trainer at the Qilingang Monkey Farm on February 2, 2016 in Baowan village, Xinye county, Henan province, China. The area boasts a centuries-long and lucrative history of raising and training monkeys for performance. In Xinye, villagers are seeing an increase in business with the lunar calendar's "Year of the Monkey". Farmers say most of the monkeys are bred and raised for domestic zoos, circuses, and performing groups, but add that some are also sold for medical research in China and the United States. Despite the popularity of the tradition, critics contend the training methods and conditions constitute animal cruelty.

The scientists used the gene called ARHGAP11B. They said that the experiment resulted in a larger neocortex in the fetus of common marmoset monkeys.

To help you understand what is happening, the neocortex is the brains' deeply grooved outer layer. It is also the part involved with language, reasoning, conscious thought, and other essential functions of an animal or human.

According to New York Post's latest report, the "Planet of the Apes"-like experiment made the monkeys' brains more human-like since they now have more advanced neocortexes.

The monkeys' brains doubled in size

The brains mimic the natural bumps and indentations in human brains. These are called sulci and the gyri.

They are evolutionary traits in humans that increase the surface area for neurons or nerve cells. This can be compared to the popular movie "Planet of the Apes," which is about the genetically-modified primates that wage war against humanity.

Scientists Insert Human Genes In Monkey' Brains to Make Them Larger and Have More Wrinkles
(Photo : Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
A chimpanzee looks out from an enclosure after the official opening ceremony of Sydney Zoo on December 06, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney Zoo, located at Bungarribee Park in Western Sydney, is the first new zoo to be built in Sydney in more than 100 years. The Zoo will open to the public on 7 December 2019.

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Around the 100th day of the experiments, the scientists discovered that the brains of the animals doubled in size.

"We found indeed that the neocortex of the common marmoset brain was enlarged and the brain surface folded," said Michael Heide, the study author at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, via The Daily Mail UK.

"[We also saw] increased numbers of upper-layer neurons, the neuron type that increases in primate evolution," he added.

Will it make them smarter?

The scientists haven't confirmed yet if the brain-size increase will make these primates smarter. However, the results are really promising since the human neocortex is about three times larger than chimpanzees, man's closest relatives.

The findings contradict the normal brain development of marmoset since their brains are usually smoother and smaller compared to the human brains. Researchers believed that ARHGAP11B also played a major role during human evolution.

As of the moment, no one knows yet what these monkeys can do until they reach adult age.

For more news updates about animal studies, always keep your tabs open here at TechTimes.

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Written by: Giuliano de Leon

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