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Chimps R Us

Scientists have discovered that we share most of our genes with chimps. While we are closely related to great apes, they are not our ancestors. Instead, we share a COMMON ancestor that lived between 5 and 7 million years ago and is no longer around. So what is it exactly that makes us different?

Some scientists see the process as reverse evolution, a case of "less is more." They think that humans LOST certain genes inherited from a common ancestor. Others may have mutated and taken on different functions. Biologist Jianzhi Zhang says, "We know that?bitter taste receptor genes tended to become unimportant in humans, and we put forth a hypothesis to explain why: The ability to taste bitterness is important for detecting toxins in food, and most of those toxins are in plants. About 1 to 2 million years ago, we started eating more meat rather than plants, and also there was use of fire, which can detoxify foods."

We may be more closely related to chimps than chimps are related to other primates, such as gorillas and orangutans. Scientists have discovered that humans evolve much more slowly than other primates, which is also a surprise. Certain human-specific traits began to evolve one million years ago, which is recent in terms of evolution. This may be because human children live longer, so there is more time for evolution between generations.

If you don't like broccoli, like the first President Bush, you might say you?re a little more closely related to the apes (which is not necessarily a bad thing). Here's more good news: the fact that we're here for you absolutely every day and that we remain free. How do we do it? We get support from readers and listeners just like you, so subscribe today (so we?ll still be here tomorrow).

Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

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