If you haven’t read the news about chimpanzees being even more closely related to humans than was previously thought, here’s a link to an article in the online version of Discovery magazine. Serious thought is being given to adding a species to the Homo genus, of which Homo sapiens currently is the only member. I love the idea of having chimpanzees join us in the Homo club. We humans need reminding that we are animals, and should be treating our kin with more respect. Like, by not eating them. Or hunting them. Or mistreating them in zoos and circuses.
Reading about the new chimp research, which found that humans actually share more than 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees, reminded me of a few paragraphs I wrote in my book, Life is Fair, some years back. Here’s the excerpt:
Though many details remain to be explained by Darwin’s theory of how life on earth has evolved through supposedly random genetic mutations and natural selection of the most viable mutations, there is general agreement that modern humans are links of an ancestral chain that extends far, far back into prehistoric times.
Chimpanzees share at least 98% of the DNA possessed by people. So from a genetic perspective, only about 1 part in 50 of human beings differs from a life-form that most would regard as decidedly “sub-human.” This means that there is a rather strange dichotomy between scientific fact and social custom.
Though people basically are highly evolved animals (spend a few hours in any singles bar to confirm this), we still act as if there were a great divide between ourselves and other species—even the primates, with whom we share the greatest kinship. Otherwise, why would we find it so acceptable to keep chimpanzees confined in public viewing areas (zoos) for our amusement, when no civilized society would condone this being done to people?