Bonobos Are Closest Humans Can Get to a 'Living Ancestor'

New study finds bonobos' anatomy has more in common with humans than chimps
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2017 2:07 PM CDT
Bonobos Are Closest Humans Can Get to a 'Living Ancestor'
The anatomy of bonobos has more in common with that of humans than chimpanzees, according to a recent study.   (Getty Images/uzuri71)

A study published this month in Scientific Reports found bonobos have more in common—anatomically speaking—with human ancestors than they do with common chimpanzees. And that's pretty interesting for modern humans. "They are the closest we can get to having a 'living' ancestor," professor of human origins Bernard Wood says in a press release. Because bonobos are an endangered species, dissections are rare. But researchers were able to study seven bonobos that had died at a zoo and were being preserved. It resulted in the first study to compare the muscular anatomies of bonobos, humans, and chimpanzees.

Researchers discovered bonobos' muscular anatomy has more in common with that of modern humans than that of chimpanzees. Humans, chimps, and bonobos share a common ancestor millions of years back. Humans split off first, but since chimps and bonobos split from each other, bonobos' anatomy has changed less. Earlier studies have come to a similar conclusion regarding the DNA of humans, chimps, and bonobos. (Bonobos also have something besides musculature in common with human babies.)

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