Chimps or Bonobos
From Whence Did You Evolve?

It has been nearly a century since the trial of the State of Tennessee vs John Thomas Scopes took place in Dayton, TN on July 21, 1925.  Most often, it is simply called the Scopes Monkey Trial. 


Clarence Darrow defending John Scopes

During that time in America, all sorts of states attempted to diss Charles Darwin and his On the Origins of Species.  The notion of evolution had been around for nearly seventy years.  Nevertheless, the idea that we evolved from the great apes did not sit well in the fundamental Bible Belt of America.  However, many southern or western states outlawed teaching science in the classroom in favor of the biblical interpretation of science.  Some of the states were Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Description: Origin of Species title page.jpg

On the Origin of Species

Nowadays, except for a few stanch creationists, America has caught up with the rest of the world when it comes to evolution.  Having said that, I came across a handful of articles about our very distant relatives.  Honestly, I was fascinated.

Description: Are bonobos our closest relative?

Apes and humans relating

There is a great deal of research being done on great apes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  About all I know about the great apes is that only four types of great ape still exist: gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and bonobos.  In addition, we share a common ancestry with the extinct relatives of chimpanzees and bonobos.  Impressed with my not so impressive knowledge base? 

I forgot about Clyde and Clint Eastwood.  Clyde, the orangutan, and Clint got along quite well. 


Clyde and Clint out driving together

Due to my lack of knowledge, I spent several hours scouring the Internet in an attempt to understand something more than a near ignorance level when it comes to the great apes.  It was fascinating.  What intrigued me the most was that the bonobos only can be found in the rain forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


The DRC is right in the middle of Africa.

Scientists know that humans have the ability to imagine feelings and thoughts of other humans.  They call this awareness theory of mind.  With theory of the mind, we can figure out what other people think by watching them.  However, not until recently did scientists believe that the great apes could do the same thing.  When they showed apes a video about a human hiding something under one of two boxes, researchers noticed something amazing.  By watching the apes' eye movements, the ape looked where they had anticipated the object to be.  Therefore, many great apes can replicate the human mind.

Description: Researchers use juice to attract the apes to the spot where they can watch the videos.

Anticipatory thinking

Another interesting issue is that the bonobos have 98.5% of the DNA that humans have.  Skeletally, they parallel Australopithecus, which was an early precursor of humans.  While bonobos and humans have some things in common, there are some major differences between bonobos and chimps. 

Bonobos are not into a male-dominated and competitive society like chimps.  Bonobos get along without fighting.  While they will have occasional spats with each other, it is not at all like the chimp and human societies dominated by alpha-males.  In fact, bonobos live in a matriarchal society.  While bonobo males are larger than females, females create alliances with other females, which cause males not to try dominating the group.  Researchers call this grouping or bonding process their sisterhood.

Therefore, while we are not debating the issue of the Scopes monkey trial, we have just completed an election.  Think about from which of the great apes the Donald received much of his DNA.  It wasn't from the bonobos.

Nearly as interesting, four years ago, Clint Eastwood talked to an empty chair at the 2012 Republican National Convention.  At that time, he didn't like Obama.  Several months ago, Esquire magazine asked Eastwood which candidate he was supporting.  "I'd have to go for Trump."  One of the things was that he agreed with the Donald related to the foolishness of being politically correct.  I'd say that is an alpha-male's response. 

So we know that Eastwood and the Donald have a great deal of chimp DNA, there is a remaining question.  From which great ape, the chimp or the bonobo, did you receive the most DNA?

This is an interesting video about bonobos.

This is a cute video done by researchers of bonobos.

This video of National Geographic is about great apes.

Connecting The Dots

Connecting the Dots

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