post 4

I was shocked to learn that about 98.5% of the genes in people and chimpanzees are identical. This finding means chimps are the closest living biological relatives to humans, but it does not mean that humans evolved from chimps. What it does indicate is that humans share a common ancestor with modern African apes (i.e., gorillas and chimpanzees), making us very, very distant cousins. We are therefore related to these other living primates, but we did not descend from them.Modern humans differ from apes in many significant ways. Human brains are larger and more complex; people have elaborate forms of communication and culture; and people habitually walk upright, can manipulate very small objects, and can speak.For the most part, nonhuman primates are research subjects because they are so similar to humans, and the principal reason for this similarity is simple: humans “are” primates. Current ideas are that the first primates appeared more than 60 million years ago. In contrast, the common ancestor of humans and African apes lived only about 5-8 million years ago; so, for more than 50 million years, humans and the African apes have shared primate ancestry. Shared ancestry is a major reason why human and nonhuman primates have many characteristics in common — tool use, long-lasting social relationships, and complex communication systems. By learning about nonhuman primates we may come to learn more about ourselves. For example, humans walk upright, on two limbs — we are bipedal. Why might humans have evolved to be bipedal, when the vast majority of nonhuman primates are quadrupedal? Individuals of certain nonhuman primate species, however, are bipedal for some activities. By studying those species of nonhuman primates that are occasionally bipedal, and discovering the circumstances in which they display bipedality, we may gain some understanding of the factors that promoted the evolution of bipedality in humans. Human and nonhuman primates also share physiological characteristics. For example, the way in which the brains of rhesus monkeys and humans are organized is similar. One brain area that has been studied extensively is the visual system. Neuroanatomical studies of the nonhuman primate brain have been extremely useful in helping us to understand how the human brain functions and how we see. In this way, nonhuman primates serve as models of particular processes that would be extremely difficult or impossible to study in humans. Study of nonhuman primates has also contributed to our understanding of basic biological phenomena such as reproduction; to better understanding of diseases such as AIDS; and to the development of drugs, treatments, and vaccines for the promotion of better health for human and nonhuman primate alike. In fact, research conducted with nonhuman primates has contributed to Nobel-prize-winning research: development of yellow fever vaccine. Of course, nonhuman primates are also studied because they are fascinating animals. They live in a wide range of habitats, and show many interesting differences in behavior and life styles. For example, in some species like squirrel monkeys, many adult males and many adult females live together the year round in a troop that also contains infants and juvenile animals. In other species, like titi monkeys that live in the same area as squirrel monkeys, a single adult male and a single adult female live together with their offspring.

8 thoughts on “post 4

  1. Hi,
    I really liked how you made the distinction between “we came from chimps” and the shared common ancestor reality. A lot of people do not understand the difference, which may be why so many people have an aversion to the theory of evolution. It reminds me of the common picture “showing” the evolution of humans, from chimp to slightly taller less slouched Neanderthal to human. Which just way over simplifies the concept of deep time. Evolution occurred of millions of years to bring us what we are today, and to what the non-human apes are. It was not as easy as Monkey-Neanderthals-Human. Additionally, you made good points about how we can use our related species to better understand evolution, I think we could also use non-human apes to better teach about evolution as well, stop the rhetoric of we came from monkeys but rather explain were our similarities came from. Anyway good post, I really enjoyed reading it! Thanks

  2. In your blog post I saw that you said something about how humans and chimpanzees have a lot in common and you also touched on how they communicate. I thought this was very interesting, it had me thinking about how we talk to each other by speaking to one another. I looked up a video and these monkeys are basically speaking to one another by their actions such as beating on their chest, the sounds they make when they screaming, and even by marking their territory with different odors. I like how you mentioned how different vaccines and treatments have been made because of non-human primates. I think that is so interesting how there are two different kinds of monkeys living in the same area but have different views of how their relationship groups function.

  3. Hi,
    I really appreciated how thorough your blog was in relating how the study of non- human primates has influenced, and advance the human world. Like you I was thrilled that the study of these non -human primates allowed us to better understand disease like AIDS. Your comparison of their different habitats reminded me a lot of the different” habitats” that subsets of humans live in and that maybe the social and environmental factors go much deeper than previously studied. I wonder if we can continue to learn things from our non-human primate brothers and sisters or eventually will the gap between us get to large and will the similarities stop there. Furthermore as we get farther and farther out from those origin dates for both humans and other non human primates will we continue to look different until we have fewer and fewer similarities.

  4. It astounds me as well that humans and apes share so much DNA and have such similar tendencies. This weeks lecture was actually a huge eye opener with me and i can see why people drew evolution from apes. There were many different things to look at when it comes to the similarities between apes and humans, but the important ones were the acts of kindness between the mother and her babies. The act of infanticide was so shocking and sad, it made me feel bad for the apes as they show human like emotion when their kids died. I also saw how closely apes also go to war and have disputes just like humans. They fight over territory, land, and even mates. These wars even go on for years and years just like our own wars.

  5. Mill2007
    I found your discussion forum to be very interesting! One of the main concepts I took away from your post was your expressions about no evolving from non-human primates, but you didn’t explain your reasoning. Do you have conflicting beliefs? If you don’t mind sharing, I would love to learn about them! I posted a comment on another student’s blog post (mill2007) if you want to read it. It is directly related to the relationship between Creationism and Darwinism. I believe in Intelligent design but I also believe there is a correspondence between evolution and Creationism. I do question the fact that we don’t see non-human primates in the middle stages of transitioning into humans. I know scientists say it is a very slow process, but it seems there would be some kind of middle species that shares even more similar traits with humans.

  6. I was shocked about the 98.5 % match also which makes me wondering why they have so much hair and we don’t. I also wonder if they have the ability to learn a language like non primate humans do. You put it very well by saying we are related but we did not descend from them most people do not know this and it is important for them to know. That is interesting to know that for millions of years before humans came to be apes had a long lasting social relationships and complex communication systems with our ancestors. It is incredible that we can use nonhuman primates to gain further knowledge in diseases and medicine. Apes are helping our world out in so many ways.

  7. I stated in my last blog that I believe that we evolved from non-human primates so I’m happy to be reading a different perspective. Many who belong to religions that believe that life was created by a higher power. I would really like to know when was the beginning of human life? You also mention that we, as humans, share a common ancestry with apes, thus making us distant cousins. I understand we differ from them in many aspects, one being the brain size. However, could one argue through natural selection, gene mutation, and/or adaptation that the human brain differed for various reasons. These reasons could be to speak or communicate in different languages than what non-human primates use, or articulate different motor skills. These are just examples. However, I did enjoy seeing a different perspective than mine.

  8. I agree with your statement that we share 98% DNA with chimpanzees, but it does not mean we are evolved from chimpanzees. I found out there are many people think that humans are literally evolved from chimpanzees, so it might be one of the reasons that some people resist the theory of human evolution. Since we share common ancestor with primates, humans and primates have similar characteristics , like you said, “communication and long lasting social relationships”. Moreover, I like your points that different non human primates live in different “habitats”, so we can study different behavior and characteristics. As the result, in order to understand humans, we have to understand nonhuman primates also. It is interesting that we can enrich our knowledge of human evolution by studying the differences and similarities between primates and humans.

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