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orang-utan closest relative

orang-utan closest relative - Could the orang-utan be our...

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Life search New Scientist Go Home News In-Depth Articles Blog Opinion Video Galleries Topic Guides Last Word E-Newsletter Subscribe Look for Science Jobs SPACE TECH ENVIRONMENT HEALTH LIFE PHYSICS&MATH SCIENCE IN SOCIETY Editorial: In praise of scientific heresy THESE days, we tend to accept without question that humans are "the third chimpanzee" . The term, coined by author Jared Diamond, refers to the notion that our closest relatives are the two chimpanzee species - the common chimp and the bonobo. But could we actually be "the second orang" - more closely related to orang-utans than chimps? That is the controversial claim made this week by Jeffrey Schwartz of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania and John Grehan of the Buffalo Museum of Science in New York ( Journal of Biogeography , DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2009.02141.x , in press ) The idea flies in the face of mainstream scientific opinion, not least a wealth of DNA evidence pointing to our close relationship to chimps. Schwartz and Grehan do not deny the similarity between human and chimp genomes, but argue that the DNA evidence is problematic and that traditional taxonomy unequivocally tells us that our closest living relatives are orang-utans. The researchers say the evidence of genetic similarity between humans and chimps is problematic Human evolution and phylogenomics researchers have so far given the paper a rough reception. Some declined to comment on it, saying they did not want to dignify the paper. One described it as "preposterous nonsense" and another as "loopy". Others were less dismissive, though, agreeing that at least some of the ideas were worth discussing, if only to confirm the overwhelming evidence in favour of the orthodox view. The Journal of Biogeography 's editors defended the decision to publish the paper, arguing that it is the best way to subject Schwartz and Grehan's argument to proper scientific scrutiny. Editor Robert Whittaker told New Scientist he had done some "soul searching" but eventually decided it was best to air the ideas. In the orthodox account of human origins, our species belongs to a group of African apes that also includes chimps, bonobos and gorillas. Chimps and bonobos are our closest living relatives , sharing a common ancestor with us up to about 6 million years ago (see diagram). This version of events is strongly supported by DNA evidence showing that the human genome sequence is most similar to that of the chimp, followed by gorillas, with orangs the least similar of the three. Schwartz and Grehan say that genome similarities cannot be taken as conclusive evidence of the closeness of our evolutionary relationships to the PRINT SEND More Latest news Are we the "third chimp" or the "second orang"? Controversial new research suggests that we may be more closely related to the orang-utan than realised (Image: Newspix / Rex Features) 1 more image ADVERTISEMENT The fat that makes you thin 10:28 14 August 2009 Brown fat, a curious kind of body tissue that burns up calories, could be the key to easy weight control Review: Not a Chimp
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