Previous studies show that humans have a large genomic deletion downstream of the Androgen Receptor gene that eliminates an ancestral mammalian regulatory enhancer that drives expression in developing penile spines and sensory vibrissae. Here we use a combination of large-scale sequence analysis and PCR amplification to demonstrate that the penile spine/vibrissa enhancer is missing in all humans surveyed and in the Neandertal and Denisovan genomes, but is present in DNA samples of chimpanzees and bonobos, as well as in multiple other great apes and primates that maintain some form of penile integumentary appendage and facial vibrissae. These results further strengthen the association between the presence of the penile spine/vibrissa enhancer and the presence of penile spines and macro- or micro- vibrissae in non-human primates as well as show that loss of the enhancer is both a distinctive and characteristic feature of the human lineage.
Reno, Philip L.; McLean, Cory Y; Hines, Jasmine E; Capellini, Terence D; Bejerano, Gill; and Kingsley, David M, "A Penile Spine/Vibrissa Enhancer Sequence Is Missing in Modern and Extinct Humans but Is Retained in Multiple Primates with Penile Spines and Sensory Vibrissae" (2013). PCOM Scholarly Papers. 1873.