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monday :: june 2, 2003
chimps must be grouped in the human genus: place of humans in evolution

Proposed changes in the primate order are stirring up evolutionary debate. Humans and chimpanzees should be grouped in the same genus, Homo, according to Wayne State University researchers in a May 19 article (#2172) published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Although WSU's Morris Goodman has already proven with non-coding DNA sequences that chimpanzees are closest in kinship to humans rather than to gorillas, evolutionary traditionalists say chimps and humans are functionally markedly different and therefore belong on different branches of the family tree.

New analyses show humans and chimpanzees to be 99.4 percent identical in the functionally-important DNA, which codes for proteins and is shaped by natural selection. This provides further evidence for revisions in our genus classification. Dr. Goodman proposes that all living apes should occupy the family Hominidae (which currently contains only humans), and that both humans and chimpanzees should occupy the genus Homo.

In traditional taxonomic schemes that are still widely employed, humans are classified as Hominids, while orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees are classified as Pongids. Genetically, however, chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas. "The accumulating DNA evidence provides an objective non-anthropocentric view of the place of humans in evolution. We humans appear as only slightly remodeled chimpanzee-like apes," Dr. Goodman said.

Researchers determined that humans and chimpanzees diverged from a common ancestor roughly five to six million years ago, which in turn diverged from gorillas about six to seven million years ago. >from *DNA Demands Chimps Be Grouped in the Human Genus, Say Wayne State Researchers*. May 19, 2003

related context
apes: catastrophic decline. april 14, 2003
> orangutan culture, push back the origins of culture. january 21, 2002
> first chimpanzee archaeological dig: reinterpreting early human sites. may 28, 2002
> the great ape project. "the idea is radical but simple: to include the nonhuman great apes within the community of equals by granting them the basic moral and legal protection that only human beings currently enjoy."

are we really genus brothers?

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