Week Four

Growing up I never believed in the whole “we descended from apes theory” but this week I’ve learned a lot about the apes and monkeys and realize we do share a lot of the same characteristics. About ninety eight percent of human genes are identical to chimpanzees. Though we didn’t evolve from them, it is said that we share a common ancestor with them and thats, maybe, why we have so many of the same characteristics. Even though we share a lot with chimps and apes, we also differ from them. For example, humans are a lot more complex than  apes. We’re definitely smarter with better communication skills. However, when absorbing humans with other non human primates, physically there are a lot of similarities. We both have prehensile digits. This trait help non human primates move through the trees, and it helps us grab things like our food. We both have stereoscopic vision, which allows both of us to see at night.

Watching and reading about the chimpanzees motherhood was one of the most interesting segments of this weeks learning. The way the mother chimpanzee cares for her children is extremely similar to humans. I was both shocked and disgusting when I learned about infanticide. Infanticide is the killing of a offspring. Male chimpanzees would commit these murders so that it shortens inter birth intervals by inducing cycling in females that lose infants, and it increases the male chances of siring offspring. In the beginning of the film”The New Chimpanzee” and showed a mother chimpanzee grieving so heavily over her dead child that she carried his dead body around for days before saying goodbye and leaving his body. This shows the complexity of emotions that chimps possess. They’re able to feel and recognize different emotions, like grieving, exactly how humans are.

Chimpanzee’s social life is a lot like ours as well. With political struggles for power gain and out right wars. The affection thy show for one another is similar to humans. Also, there gestures and expressions. Chimps develop not only different tools, but while cultures in which they pass on to their young, a lot like humans.

There are so many different ways that non human primates are just like humans and I think thats the main reason scientist tends to study them and their behavior. Studying them has given us some insight on human behavior as well and maybe it helps us better understand why we (humans) sometimes behave the way we do.

20 thoughts on “Week Four

  1. Hey!
    I wanted to start off by saying that I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I liked the part where you talked about mothers. It seems like not only is there the physical similarity of the offspring developing in the mother for nine months, there seem to be a lot of behavioral similarities too. For example, the lectures mentioned females do not produce that many offspring in their lifetime because of the energy and care that goes into caring for an offspring. I think this is really the case with humans too. I was also very shocked about infanticide. Thank God humans do not normally do that! Finally, I really resonated with the paragraph that you wrote about the social structure similarities. You talked about chimps trying to achieve social gain, and how this has even led to wars. This is so true in the human species as well. War seems to still be about making selfish gains. Anyways, I really agreed with everything in your blog post, very insightful!

  2. Hi,
    I think the reason many people do not believe about the theory of evolution, in part, is because the differences between non-human apes and humans are more easily seen than the similarities. And it’s hard to imagine that we shared common ancestor. But clearly there is a lot of evidence to support the theory of evolution, including the genetic similarity of 98%. But I think it is really cool that this class was able to let you come up with your own new conclusion, by showing you all the ways in which we are similar. I agree with you that the motherhood nurture example was one of the more intriguing similarities. Kind of like the whole nature nurture argument that humans argue over. And interestingly I think there are a few other animal groups that practice infanticide- such as lions but I am not sure. Anyway good post!

  3. Hello,
    I think that this was a very interesting topic that we covered this week also. The whole idea of evolution and humans evolving from apes was strange to me growing up. I learned about it a little in middle school, and a little more in high school. It was more of other students talking about it and saying how crazy the idea was. In college, of course, there are people who focus strictly on this idea within their major or profession, so I was able to get more data and information on it. It was interesting to learn how closely related a lot of behaviors and emotions that Chimpanzees and humans share, good and bad. It really made me interested in learning more about evolution.

  4. I was always fascinated by the “we descended from apes theory” growing up. I never took the time to look into it but I always thought it was a very wild concept. This week articles and lectures really opened my eyes to all the characteristics that we share with them. I also wrote about how one of the main differences between chimps, apes and humans is how complex humans are. Communication skills are a very good example one of the few differences we have and I would also add that human knowledge is also way more complex than an ape or chimpanzee. Emotions are something that I found to be a very common characteristic just like you did. Specifically mother emotions are very similar. The way the mother chimp grieved for her child is what I would expect from any human that lost a child. I agree with your statement at the end of your response about how the studying of non human primates can give us insight into human behavior and can help explain some of the behaviors humans have.

  5. I agree that as humans, infanticide is a pretty horrifying concept. I wasn’t as shocked by it when reading about it this week since I have taken a class about primates before. The reason behind infanticide makes sense (better opportunity to pass on your own genes rather than another male’s genes), but it’s such a sad concept. Especially learning about the mother dragging around her child’s dead body is a really heartbreaking image. It’s powerful to see those emotions that are so relatable as humans. The social structure of non-human primates is another similarity where you can really see how much we have in common with these other species. I agree with you that the reason we study them so much is largely because we can learn so much about our own species and evolution through them.

  6. Hi,

    I also appreciate the clarification on the fact that we simply share a common ancestor as apes. Although I did understand the concept before, after going through the previous lessons of this class, I think it just makes more sense now as to how sharing a common ancestor with apes can account for this much similarity between us. I also found the section on motherhood to be the most interesting. When we were learning about infanticide, I thought back to another reading I did once where it said that another reason some types of female monkeys will sleep with multiple male monkeys is to protect from infanticide. While they generally know who the real father is, if many male monkeys believe themselves to be the father, then they will not kill that baby monkey later. I do not remember exactly where I read this but it is interesting to think about.

  7. I agree that I was difficult to wrap my head around the idea of humans descending from apes. It is incredible that we share 98% of our genes with chimpanzees, but they look so different from us. It is definitely true that we are more intelligent than apes, but there are still many physical similarities among us. These include the prehensile digits and stereoscopic vision that you mentioned. I agree that learning about the relationship between the chimps and their mothers is very intriguing. It was especially fascinating to see the similarities they share with human behavior. I like how you mentioned “The New Chimpanzee” film that showed a mother grieving for her dead child. That kind of emotion is so very human and is a great example of a non-physical quality that we share with these primates. Infanticide was a topic that disgusted me as well because it is so difficult to believe that this is a natural process for these primates. But although hard to believe, the logic behind the males’ needing to sire more offspring makes sense. It is so interesting to see that chimpanzee’s social lives are similar to humans in the ways they compete, fight, and love. It seems that there is more to these chimps than meets the eye.

  8. Growing up for me as well I never believed we came from apes, my thought always was if we did why do we still have apes today? From this weeks lecture it made think maybe it really hit the nail on the head for me about how many characteristics we have in common, not even looking at the biological point that we share 98 of the same genes. Our common ancestor is whats makes us share this things. In one of the videos from this weeks lecture it talked about how apes/monkeys have same hands and feet as we do, but they obviously use it for different things. This made me farther infer that our ancestor maybe lived in the same environment where they also had to be in tress or maybe just coexist with monkeys, and over time that evolved into being used for what we use it for today, e.i driving, writing, walking, everything. Very interesting concept to look at.

  9. First, I enjoyed that you started your post with an “attention grabber” because that made your post stick out among the rest. (Shout out to all of my English teachers – the first sentence does actually make a difference.) Anyway, growing up, I did half-believe the theory that we “descended from apes” but I didn’t really know much about it or whether it was true or not. I think it is important that people realize that we didn’t necessarily descend chimpanzees or apes, but we share a common ancestor. After this week’s lectures, I have learned so much that helps me wrap my brain around this theory. There are so many similarities between humans and non-human primates from social life, to behavior, and even genetic makeup. I think that there is quite a bit that we can learn from non-human primates and I can’t wait to see what information the future brings about human evolution.

  10. I agree with you 100% that we different from non-human primates. I liked how you compared a lot of the characteristics and how they are very similar, but with this blog post it has led me to have a what if thought in the back of my mind. I say this because we as humans research a lot of things and always finding something new. What if in a couple years some remains are found that tells us we were descendants of the same type of mammal, but we just evolved? I also thought the motherhood segment was the best after viewing the lectures because it really goes to show that wild animals are just like humans aspect of how we view things from when we are adolescences to adulthood.

  11. Hello!
    I related to your blog post a lot. As a child I was never really into the whole “apes into humans” theory. To this day I probably care more about the flora of a safari than the animals. It was also surprising to me that behavior wise; humans and chimps are very similar. This whole week’s lectures just back up the fact that Planet of the Apes might actually happen, ha ha.
    You also bought up that another interesting topic, how important a mother-child bond is in chimpanzees. There really is no way to describe the heartache I felt when the mother chimp kept carrying around he baby’s carcass. This goes to show that other animals have a wide range of emotions, as do humans.

  12. Hi,
    Like you I grew up not believing in Darwin’s theory of evolution and I still don’t but after watching this weeks videos and reading the attached PDF’s I also learned a lot about the similarities between Humans and Monkeys. I liked the paragraph about the Infanticide in your blog post. I didn’t think to make the emotional connection between how the mother Chimpanzee grieved for her baby similar to human emotions. The social aspect of chimpanzees fascinated me as well. In my capstone class we talked about how monkey can cause each other stress through their emotional hierarchies and how humans exhibit the same patterns psychologically causing stress upon each other based on race and social order. Overall, I really related to your piece and found it interesting.

  13. Hello! When I was watching this week’s lecture, the infanticide happened in some primate groups also shocked me! It’s always heartbreaking for the mother chimp, but it’s the survival way male adapted from evolution. I’m guessing that the other potential reason for the infanticide is that male chimps are trying to prevent youth sons from mating with his own mother/sisters. Mating with relatives can threaten offspring’s health and cause higher death rate of the offspring. Moreover, the males do it is because they want to make some of the mother chimps valuable for mating again. I know it sounds very cruel for us, but keep in mind that we are far away from the extinction threat. We developed a lot of higher level emotions

    • ..because we have already fulfilled our survival needs. Overall, good job on your post!:) (accidentally posted my last comment when I wasn’t ready)

  14. Hello! When I was watching this week’s lecture, the infanticide happened in some primate groups also shocked me! It’s always heartbreaking for the mother chimp, but it’s the survival way male adapted from evolution. I’m guessing that the other potential reason for the infanticide is that male chimps are trying to prevent youth sons from mating with his own mother/sisters. Mating with relatives can threaten offspring’s health and cause higher death rate of the offspring. Moreover, the males do it is because they want to make some of the mother chimps valuable for mating again. I know it sounds very cruel for us, but keep in mind that we are far away from the extinction threat. We developed a lot of higher level emotions because we have already fulfilled our survival needs. Overall, good job on your post! 🙂

  15. It was actually astounding how much alike humans and chimpanzees can be. I personally looked at how the violence between humans and chimps are so similar. There are wars that last for years, just like humans. These wars can be over land or mates or territory, just like humans. chimps even have random senseless acts of violence to the opposing groups of people, which is rather similar to humans as well. I didn’t even realize the parental side of chimps and humans though. I love how you looked at that and saw that the mothers care so much for their babies, which shows human like characteristics. The whole infanticide hit me hard, that males can do that and it was saddening to see the mothers grieving and sad for days, showing emotion as if very human like.

  16. I was raised in a Christian home. Growing up, I learned everything was created through Intelligent design. In other words, God created everything. There is a lot of controversy when discussing Creationism vs Darwinism. But why can’t it be both? Evolution is science. Creationism can be viewed that way too. Scientists dispute the fact that the universe was created in 7 days, but the universe is constantly changing. Who decided the amount of time that represents a “day”? A day thousands of years ago could have been more than a 24 hour period. The reason I bring this up is because there is no reason to argue evolution vs creation. Humans obviously share a number of physical and behavioral traits with non-human primates. There are statistics, studies, and facts to prove we are close relatives. This class provided very useful information about the similarities between non-human primates and humans, and the processes each use to learn, adapt and survive. It was very interesting to pull this information into my current beliefs and become more well-rounded and a person.

  17. Growing up I didn’t believe in the “we descended from apes theory” either because of my Christian upbringing. I had first learned about Harry Harlow’s experiment with the social behavior of monkeys in my Intro to Psychology class. I was shocked at how similar the monkeys were to humans on a social aspect. Harlow wanted to prove to the psychology community that primate research could contribute to the understanding of important clinical issues without having to be molecular in nature. His theory hinged on the universal need for contact. Harlow’s wire/cloth “mother” monkey studies demonstrated that the need for affection created a stronger bond between mother and infant than did physical needs like food. After reviewing the material for this week the theory of humans and chimpanzees sharing a common ancestor makes a lot more sense, yet I can’t say that I’m confident that it is true. Besides, who/what is the common ancestor?

  18. I am surprised that you had no belief at all that we descended from apes. But I agree the articles we read this week provided sufficient evidence and knowledge to support this fact. I did not know that we both have stereoscopic vision and that’s what helps us see at night. Do apes see better at night than any other animal? I completely agree about with you input on infanticide. Even though it increases apes offspring its shocking to know because apes are so much like us and they care so much for their young how could they kill them? When you spoke about the grieving process it is all ironic because I’m not sure why they would kill the baby if it saddens them so much.

  19. Beyond having a common ancestor with apes and monkeys, what are your thoughts on humans being apes? Are we simply primates with a unique set of traits? Or does our intellect set us apart? Or are there other traits that separates us from the “animals”? Where on taxidermy do we split? Can we be categorized on our current scientific scale?

    Sorry for all my questions, but you have a very unique point of view. I’ve been taught that we evolved from apes and therefore have believe it as long as I lived. It’s very difficult to imagine an alternative when I’ve been set in the same ideas for literally decades.

    The infanticide committed by chimps also shocked me. It’s hard to imagine that the male chimps actually understand concept of shorting interview cycles by killing offspring. How ingrained is this practice? Is this taught or do they simply act on a feeling? At the same time, it’s not like infanticide is something that’s unique to chimps. There are numerous accounts of the killing of children for the sack of furthering of a person’s genetic lineage. Russian modern history is a good example as is really any monarchy if one looks hard enough.

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