Blog Four

The study of non-human primates has the ability to answer the many enigmas of human structure and behaviors.

The amount similarities humans share with non-human primates is too large to deny that humans evolved from them. In the lectures, we looked at the physical traits humans and non-human primates share. We both have opposable thumbs that we use to grasp objects (no longer tree limbs for humans), similar skull structures due to the similar sizes of the brain, and some share the same ability to walk on two legs. Not only do we share physical traits, but the way we think, learn and adapt similar.

As we learned from the videos “What Does It Mean to Be Human”, in lecture, both humans and non-human primates use tools to make living easier. Even though humans use tools for just about everything, we acquired the knowledge to use tools from our recent ancestors.

We are also part of social groups, just like non-human primates. We interact with one another for nurturing needs, comfort and survival; just like non-human primates. We groom each other, have our own language for communication and recognize gestures for communication as well. Some non-human primates are violent in their social groups, but aren’t humans too? We both share the behavior of warfare. Not all groups of non-human primates are violent (like the peaceful bonobos), and not all groups of humans are violent. But each species has a history of warfare. The video “What War is Good For? Ask a Chimpanzee”, explained the behaviors of war among certain subgroups of non-human primates, whether it be for territorial purposes or hazing, they do have violent tendencies.

I was surprised about the similarities between humans and non-human primates. Yes, I have learned we evolved from chimpanzees over my lifespan, but I didn’t realize how closely related we are. Learning about the way humans communicate with each other, non-human primates communicate with each other, and how humans can communicate with non-human primates was amazing! In one of the videos, there was a man speaking with a chimpanzee using sign language and he asked the chimp what his favorite color was and he responded with “red”. For me, seeing something like this was truly moving and changed my perspective about our relationship with non-human primates. If we are able to communicate with them in such a way, how could we not be related or descended from them?

Studying chimpanzees, apes, or any other non-human primate can give a lot of insight to the physical traits and behaviors of humans. There are certain characteristics humans and non-human primates share, and we can’t deny our relationship with them. We learn in very similar ways, we grow up and behave the way we are taught to behave, we learn how to be good mothers and fathers by the way we are raised, and we communicate with each other on a completely different level than any other mammal.

These similarities are no coincidences and if we continue to study our ancestors, we are going to continue to learn about ourselves.

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