Of a total of 500,000 Alu family members, approximately 500 are present as a human-specific (HS) subfamily. Each of the HS subfamily members shares a high degree of nucleotide identity and is not present at orthologous positions in other primate genomes, suggesting that HS subfamily members have recently inserted within the human genome. This confirms the hypothesis that the majority of Alu family members are amplified copies of a "master" gene(s). This master gene appears to be amplifying at a rate much slower than that seen earlier in primate evolution. Some of the HS Alu subfamily members have amplified so recently that they are dimorphic in the human population, making them a potentially powerful tool for studies of human populations.