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A research paper from the 1970s described the genetic code as “a universal, highly degenerate, three-letter code”. For reference, a three-letter code, also called a codon, is a group of three bases of DNA that specify a single amino-acid building block for a protein. DNA bases are also referred to as nucleotides.To read the article in its entirety, click on "Major Evolutionary Blunders: The 'Degenerate' Genetic Code?"
A more recent paper exploring the evolution of genes states, “Because there are much more different codons than coded amino acids, the genetic code is called degenerate. Since the discovery of the genetic code…how it is degenerated is one of the most fascinating problems of genetics.” This fascinating problem has evolutionary implications: “The hypotheses trying to explain the evolution of the genetic code can be divided into two groups [mechanistic and random].” The authors advocate the random hypothesis and describe how the alleged evolution and degeneracy of the genetic code developed together. What might a biology undergraduate student learning about DNA make of these characterizations of genetic degeneracy? Evolutionists believe that genetic variety is mindlessly fractionated between organisms in a deadly struggle for life. Destruction associated with a struggle for life may fit the primary definition of “degenerate” in dictionaries like Merriam-Webster: