Uner Tan Syndrome: The Ulas Family Essay

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In 2005, a Turkish neuroscientist and evolutionary biologist named Dr. Uner Tan discovered a family with a very unique condition: five of them walk on all fours with a quadrupedal gait. In addition to quadrupedalism, affected individuals showed severe mental retardation and what he described as “primitive speech.” The presence of these three characteristic symptoms became known as Uner Tan Syndrome. The Ulas family was discovered in a small village near Iskenderun in southern Turkey. At the time of their identification, there were 12 normal children and 7 disabled children, one of whom died. Of the 6 remaining affected children, 5 of them displayed habitual quadrupedal walking. The Ulas family is highly consanguineous (second …show more content…
In 2005, a Turkish neuroscientist and evolutionary biologist named Dr. Uner Tan discovered a family with a very unique condition: five of them walk on all fours with a quadrupedal gait. In addition to quadrupedalism, affected individuals showed severe mental retardation and what he described as “primitive speech.” The presence of these three characteristic symptoms became known as Uner Tan Syndrome. The Ulas family was discovered in a small village near Iskenderun in southern Turkey. At the time of their identification, there were 12 normal children and 7 disabled children, one of whom died. Of the 6 remaining affected children, 5 of them displayed habitual quadrupedal walking. The Ulas family is highly consanguineous (second cousins), and neither of the founders possesses any of the symptoms. This suggested that the genetic basis for Uner Tan Syndrome is autosomal recessive (Harrison and Holt). One family in Brazil, and another in Iraq have also shown segregation for similar phenotypes to varying degrees of severity (Türkmen et al.; Ozcelik et al.). Habitual bipedal gait, articulated language, and the ability form complex thoughts are characteristics that have long been thought to separate human beings from animals. When Dr. Tan initially described Uner Tan Syndrome, he claimed that the affected individuals were “genetic throwbacks.” He hypothesized that a single gene mutation would be found in this family could shed some light on human evolution, and the

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