Puerto Rican? You’re Close to Perfect!

In 2014, Berkeley biologist Lior Pachter published a study titled The perfect human is Puerto Rican.

In the study, Pachter analyzed variations in the human genome and separated “good genes” from “bad genes”. The “good genes” being genes associated with lower incidences of disease and medical conditions while the “bad genes” are statistically linked to more physical problems.

Pachter created a plot graph showing what an individual with all “good genes” would look like, and compared the “perfect individual” with genetic data from Africans, (indigenous) Americans, East Asians and Europeans.

The result was this:

The nearest neighbor to the “perfect human” is HG00737, a female who isPuerto Rican. One might imagine that such a person already existed, maybe Yuiza, the only female Taino chief in Puerto Rico’s history.

Now before everyone who is not Puerto Rican gets upset, here is the truth. Pachter is a computational biologist at Berkeley who uses biological data to develop algorithms and study relationships among biological systems, in this case it was the human genome.

Lior Pachter published this study to refute statements made by James Watson, a geneticist who believes we should use genetic engineering to improve “imperfect humans”. Pachter believes genetically modifying people is “disturbing on many many levels”, and conducted this study to disprove James Watson.

In the study, Pachter asks, “could he be right? Is the “perfect human” an American from Chicago of mixed Scottish/Irish ancestry?” This study refuted that idea while giving Puerto Ricans a nice ego boost in the process.

The closet thing we have to a “perfect human” being Puerto Rican makes sense. In a study, Puerto Rican women born on the island but living in New York were shown to be 53.3% European, 29.1% West African, and 17.6% Native American, making Puerto Rican’s the most genetically diverse population in the world.

That genetic diversity means some Puerto Rican’s may be close to having the “best” possible genetic makeup, while others may be close to having the “worst genetic makeup”. Either way, at least now we know why Jennifer Lopez looks so good.

Cover image: Gallery Z