Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Who's your Daddy?
Everything I've ever read about human evolution suggests the living ape we are most closely related to is the Chimpanzee. This idea is based upon the fact we share the highest degree of genetic similarity with the Chimp. Our next most closely related living ape would be the gorilla, followed by orangutans, and finally the lesser ape known as the Gibbon.
However two researchers by the names of Jeffery H. Schwartz and John Grehan are challenging this idea. Instead of looking at DNA they examined the morphology between chimps, humans, orangutans, gorillas and australopithecines. Surprisingly they have found that humans share the highest degree of morphological similarity with orangutans. Furthermore orangutans share even more similarities with australopithecines. Schwartz and Grenan additionally argue that there is no reason why one should favour DNA analysis over morphological analysis.
I really don't know what to think about this. I do love a good scientific controversy, so I'll continue watching this one to see what develops. At first this seems to come out of left field. But when I started thinking about it one of the first things to come to mind was the social nature of humans, chimps, and orangutans. While humans and chimps have different societal structures they more closely resemble each other than orangutans, which are rather solitary. However orangutans have larger brains which are in some ways more comparable with modern humans.
Hmmmmm. Here's the Physorg.com article: Humans related to orangutans, not chimps.