Chimpanzees And Bonobos As The Closest Living Relatives Of Humans

783 Words Nov 23rd, 2015 4 Pages
Chimpanzees and bonobos are characterized as the closest living relatives of humans. Studies have shown that the humans and apes descended from the same ancestor nearly six million years ago. It was at this time that their DNA sequences began to diverge from one another. Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (Pan paniscus) stemmed from the same Pan ancestor, but split about two million years ago when the Congo River formed (Prufer, 2012). While the separation between the Homo and Pan lineages occurred some time ago, their genetic makeup, social interactions, and reproductive patterns create for a strong link between the three species. Humans, chimpanzees, and bonobos are alike in many ways, both in body and behavior. It is their DNA, though, that allowed scientists to discover how closely related the species actually are. Humans share roughly 99% of their DNA with chimpanzees and bonobos. The relative brain size of these apes matches most of our extinct relatives, suggesting a link to our early hominid society. In fact, “more than 3% of the human genome is more closely related to either the bonobo or the chimpanzee genome than these are to each other” (Prufer, 2012). With such a similar genetic compositions, no one can deny the physical similarities. Probably the most important physical similarity between humans and these apes is bipedalism, or their ability to walk on two legs. Although chimpanzees and bonobos often walk on all fours, they use their ability to walk…

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