Scientists believed for years that the vast phenotypic differences between humans and chimpanzees would display significantly different genetic makeups. However, when their genomes were later sequenced, researchers were surprised to learn that the DNA sequences of human and chimpanzee genes are nearly identical.
In molecular biology, "junk" DNA is a collective label for the portions of the DNA sequence of a chromosome or a genome for which no function has yet been identified. About 98.5% of the human genome has been designated as "junk", including most sequences within introns and most intergenic DNA.
While much of this sequence is probably an evolutionary artifact that serves no present-day purpose, some may function in ways that are not currently understood. In fact, recent studies have suggested functions for certain portions of what has been called junk DNA. Moreover, the conservation of some "junk" DNA over many millions of years of evolution may imply an essential function. The "junk" label is therefore recognized as something of a misnomer, and many prefer the more neutral term "noncoding DNA."