• Question: why do use humans get told we are like 99.9% of monkeys ??

    Asked by channi to Alastair, Emma, Hywel, Keith, Vicki on 25 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Alastair Sloan

      Alastair Sloan answered on 16 Jun 2010:

      This is because we share a large amount of genetic information with monkeys – about 97%. These genes are the same between both species and its only the 3% difference that makes us so different from monkeys

    • Photo: Keith Brain

      Keith Brain answered on 16 Jun 2010:

      I don’t like this idea of 99.9% similarity. The difference comes from comparing our DNA, which is the instruction block for building living things found inside every living cell. Comparing the DNA of humans and that of apes (which are a closer relative than monkeys) shows that these are 99.something% similar. However, just because the DNA is 99.something% similar, doesn’t mean that we’re 99.something% similar in any other way than our DNA content. This is because the extra 0.something% may well be in key locations that help to make us quite different from apes.

      It does, however, mean that our bodies (and our physiology) follows very similar themes, because the instruction books for building us and apes are similar.

    • Photo: Vicki Stevenson

      Vicki Stevenson answered on 16 Jun 2010:

      Hi Channi
      I think it depends what particular aspect is being considered, when similarity is being analysed.
      For instance the protein Cytochrome C of a dog is 90% similar to a humans and the hemoglobin (in blood) of a horse is 88% similar to a human.
      Since we are all mammals, there is already a high level of similarity.

      The similarity of humans with apes and chimpanzees is more pronounced. The skeletons are similar since they all walk upright (at least partially) and have grasping hands. In fact we share 97.5% of our DNA with chimpanzees.

      Some people are quite offended to be told that they are similar to apes and chimpanzees. I don’t worry about it – it’s quite obvious that we’re different and no one is ever going to mistake a chimpanzee for a long lost cousin!

    • Photo: Hywel Vaughan

      Hywel Vaughan answered on 17 Jun 2010:

      Hi Channi,
      In terms of DNA, research has suggested that we share 93% of our DNA with a macaques but up to 98 to 99% of our DNA with a Chimpanzee. that 1% though makes a lot of difference! From that we get intelligence, language, science…
      It is also worth noting that we also share 50% of our DNA with a banana. 😀

    • Photo: Emma Carter

      Emma Carter answered on 25 Jun 2010:

      Hi Channi,
      This is based on some old research concerning the similarity of the human and ape genomes (I think it’s actually 98.5%) but more up-to-date research is challenging this (http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/news/2003/03/57892 ). Here is a bit from a post this month on Eureka (The Times science website) by Helene Guldberg, author of ‘Just another ape?’ :
      “Whatever first impressions might tell us, apes are really not ‘just like us’. They do not have anything resembling human consciousness – the ability to think about a problem before approaching it, reflect on what they are doing while they are doing it and refine their actions accordingly. And the evidence for apes having human-like mental capacities is getting weaker and weaker as researchers develop more sophisticated ways of investigating what apes can and cannot do.” http://timesonline.typepad.com/science/