Ever looked at a minion and thought you could be (very, very, very) distantly-related?
That’s the theory being put forward by two natural sciences students at the University of Leicester who have written a paper for the student journal of their university’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Science (CIS) which compares the gene structure of humans and that of the bubbly, yellow creatures.
Krisho Manoharan and Ruth Sang Jones’ paper analyses some of the potential genes that are present in both the minion and human genome, including body structure and plan, eye development, language ability and yellow skin pigmentation.
In the report, the students describe how Universal Pictures’ minions – made famous by the Despicable Me film franchise – are not just cuddly little miscreants, but are complex beings.
They add: “They are quite human-like in their structure and behaviour and, according to the upcoming Minions movie, first came onto land at the same time as tetrapods [the first four-limbed vertebrates], which is approximately 400 million years ago.”
If minions really existed, the report highlights the four main gene factors which could possibly make them descendants of humans:
Homoeotic genes – which are responsible for organism development and, given the creatures’ proportions, they could potentially suffer from hypochondroplasia – a form of short-limbed dwarfism – which can result in disproportionate limbs and an enlarged skull
The PAX6 gene – which is responsible for eye development and would explain a minion’s camera-lens structured eyes
The FoxP2 gene – which is required for proper development of speech and language. This, say the students, would explain the minions’ own spoken language which, in some ways, mimics human languages
Xanthophores – a pigment-defining cell which determines animal colouration and could explain the yellow pigmentation of a minion
Dr Cheryl Hurkett, from the CIS, said that, to be a professional scientist, it is important to have the ability to make connections between the vast amount of information students have at their command and being able to utilise the knowledge and techniques they have previously mastered in a new way.
Describing how the natural sciences module is designed to allow students to experience what it’s like to be at the cutting edge of scientific research, she added: “I encourage them to be as creative as possible with their subject choices – as long as they can back it up with hard scientific facts, theories and calculations.”
And, in case you were wondering what the DNA base-pair sequence length for the genes considered is, it’s: 180 × 235 = 42, 300 bp.
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