I had learned about the similarities between humans and monkeys and chimpanzees all throughout my life, but the material this week taught me so much. I had never realized just how many similarities there are between humans and chimpanzees, specifically. I also never realized how much we can learn about the history of the human species just by studying modern day primates. Although humans and primates might look very different today, we share about 98% of our DNA. We normally focus on the differences between species when learning about animals, so it was refreshing to focus this week on all of the similarities between humans and non-human primates.
One of the things that surprised me in one of the articles this week was the theory that violence is a part of human DNA. I agree more with the perspective that killing is more circumstantial than an instinct. One thing I’m curious about though is the differences between common chimpanzees and bonobos. What happened during the time they evolved apart that made one group so peaceful and the other much more violent? It makes it seem more likely that it might be something in the DNA of the common chimpanzees that drive them to commit acts of violence.
The theory that perhaps humans used to live in fission-fusion societies like chimpanzees do today was very interesting. I had never heard that before but it makes sense when thinking about some social aspects of our society, particularly violence. This made me curious about why humans and common chimpanzees may have evolved to have this violent gene but bonobos didn’t. Why can two species be so genetically similar but evolve to have such different behavior and social structures? This was one of the topics this week that I found most interesting. I kept coming up with more questions about the differences and similarities between these two species. I think there is a lot to learn in comparing bonobos with common chimpanzees.
I was also surprised to learn about the raid that spider monkeys were taking part in. I had never heard about such organized behavior coming from primates, especially a violent act like that. That shows how smart and organized primates are, and shows how many similarities there are between groups of primates and humans. I was fascinated by the videos showing some similarities between humans and non-human primates. It’s incredible that they have so many evolved characteristics in common with humans, like walking on two legs, language, and using tools.
Studying non-human primates can teach us a lot about our own biology, behavior, and culture. Since we share common ancestors, studying primates like chimpanzees can help us understand how we have evolved differently. It might also give us a look at what humans used to be more like, since early humans were probably very similar to the non-human primates. I’m curious about some of the work that is being done by anthropologists to study non-human primates today in order to reveal more about the human species.