Study finds bonobos may be better representation of the last common ancestor with humans than common chimpanzees

April 29, 2017
A new study examining the muscular system of bonobos provides firsthand evidence that the rare great ape species may be more closely linked to human ancestors than common chimpanzees. Credit: iStock

A new study examining the muscular system of bonobos provides firsthand evidence that the rare great ape species may be more closely linked, anatomically, to human ancestors than common chimpanzees. Previous research suggested this theory at the molecular level, but this is the first study to compare in detail the anatomy of the three species.

"Bonobo muscles have changed least, which means they are the closest we can get to having a 'living' ancestor," said Bernard Wood, professor of human origins at the GW Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology.

Scientists believe that modern human and common chimpanzee/ lineages split about 8 million years ago with the two great ape splitting about 2 million years ago. As common chimpanzees and bonobos evolved after their split, they developed different traits and physical characteristics, even though they remained geographically relatively close, with their main division being the Congo River. Because of this, researchers have been curious as to what those differences are and how they compare to humans. By studying the muscles of bonobos (which indicates how they physically function), the team was able to discover that they are more closely related to human anatomy than common chimpanzees, in the sense that their muscles have changed less than they have in common chimpanzees.

Earlier studies examined the DNA similarities and differences between bonobos and common chimpanzees, but this was the first study to compare the muscles of the three species.

These are differences between head muscles of common chimpanzees, bonobos and modern humans. There are no major consistent differences concerning the presence/absence of muscles in adult common chimpanzees (left) and bonobos (center), the only minor difference (shown in grey in the common chimpanzee scheme) being that the omohyoideus has no intermediate tendon in bonobos, contrary to common chimpanzees (and modern humans). In contrast, there are many differences between bonobos and modern humans (right) concerning the presence/absence of muscles in the normal phenotype (shown in colors and/or with labels in the human scheme). Credit: Julia Molnar

"In addition, our study has shown that there is a mosaic evolution of the three species, in the sense that some features are shared by humans and bonobos, others by humans and common chimpanzees, and still others by the two ape species," said Rui Diogo, lead author of the paper and associate professor of anatomy at Howard University. "Such a mosaic anatomical evolution may well be related to the somewhat similar molecular mosaic evolution between the three species revealed by previous genetic studies: each of the chimpanzees species share about 3 percent of genetic traits with humans that are not present in the other chimpanzee species."

The researchers led a team that examined seven bonobos from the Antwerp Zoo that had died and were being preserved. Researchers said this was an extremely rare opportunity given bonobos' status as an endangered species.

The scientists note that having a clear understanding of what makes humans different from our closest living relatives might lead to new breakthroughs or understandings of human health.

The paper, "Bonobo anatomy reveals stasis and mosaicism in chimpanzee evolution, and supports bonobos as the most appropriate extant model for the common ancestor of and humans," published in Scientific Reports, a Nature publication, this month. 

Explore further: Genome sequencing reveals ancient interbreeding between chimpanzees and bonobos

More information: Rui Diogo et al. Bonobo anatomy reveals stasis and mosaicism in chimpanzee evolution, and supports bonobos as the most appropriate extant mode l for the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-00548-3

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Shootist
2.3 / 5 (6) Apr 29, 2017
more importantly than taxonomic considerations, what does the DNA say?
AlwaysUnite
4.5 / 5 (8) Apr 29, 2017
more importantly than taxonomic considerations, what does the DNA say?


DNA says we share 99.6% with chimpansees and 98.7% with bonobos. That makes them more closely related to us than gorillas which share 98% of our DNA.

1) sciencemag dot org/news/2012/06/bonobos-join-chimps-closest-human-relatives
2) scientificamerican dot com/article/tiny-genetic-differences-between-humans-and-other-primates-pervade-the-genome/
Da Schneib
4.4 / 5 (8) Apr 29, 2017
Having watched both bonobos and chimps at numerous zoos, as well as gorillas and orangutans, I would have to say that this was my sense as well; bonobos are closer to humans than any other hominid. But that's just anecdote; it's amusing to see it confirmed by hard research.
HeloMenelo
3.2 / 5 (11) Apr 30, 2017
more importantly than taxonomic considerations, what does the DNA say?


DNA says we share 99.6% with chimpansees and 98.7% with bonobos. That makes them more closely related to us than gorillas which share 98% of our DNA.

1) sciencemag dot org/news/2012/06/bonobos-join-chimps-closest-human-relatives
2) scientificamerican dot com/article/tiny-genetic-differences-between-humans-and-other-primates-pervade-the-genome/


You are correct, Excpet it shows a 100% compatibility with antigoracle and or his sockpuppet shootist
ThomasQuinn
3 / 5 (10) Apr 30, 2017
more importantly than taxonomic considerations, what does the DNA say?


DNA says we share 99.6% with chimpansees and 98.7% with bonobos. That makes them more closely related to us than gorillas which share 98% of our DNA.

1) sciencemag dot org/news/2012/06/bonobos-join-chimps-closest-human-relatives
2) scientificamerican dot com/article/tiny-genetic-differences-between-humans-and-other-primates-pervade-the-genome/


You are correct, Excpet it shows a 100% compatibility with antigoracle and or his sockpuppet shootist


That sounds unreasonably disparaging of bonobos, chimpansees and gorillas.
Bart_A
1.4 / 5 (10) May 01, 2017
Evolutionary biologists like to put everything in a box---a neat and orderly Taxonomic rank. Evolutionary scientists like to try to fit everything in branches.

Neither works very well.

There are mammals that are cold-blooded. Some mammals have wings. Some mammals lay eggs. Etc. All these things we were told that mammals weren't. And some birds don't even have wings.

And where does the Platypus fit in?

And yet these "scientists" still try to fit everything into their pre-conceived boxes....

HeloMenelo
3.7 / 5 (6) May 01, 2017
The real question is, where does antisciencegorilla fit in, as there is only one of his kind, the rest are all his own sockpuppets.
FredJose
1 / 5 (6) May 02, 2017
DNA says we share 99.6% with chimpansees and 98.7% with bonobos. That makes them more closely related to us than gorillas which share 98% of our DNA.

DNA says absolutely nothing of the kind. It's the bias that been built into that comparison by human beings bent on showing there's some kind of connection between humans and chimps that led to that conclusion. In reality one should examine just how they went about making the comparison and then immediately recoil in horror at the incredible fudging that occurred by cherry picking matches to please themselves. Go back and check the methodology and results for yourselves. Don't take and repeat the non-science that arises from bad bias.
Revised counting shows results of about 70% similarity. How on earth so-called darwinian evolution is to bridge the gap that that represents is simply mind-boggling.
Plus if the ENCODE project shows that there is zero junk DNA, the chances are suddenly much, MUCH smaller.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (4) May 02, 2017
DNA says absolutely nothing of the kind. It's the bias that been built into that comparison by human beings bent on showing there's some kind of connection between humans and chimps that led to that conclusion
Its funny just how blind godlovers are to their own bias, and how obvious this bias is to everyone else. Faith is after all bias of the basest sort yes? 'Belief despite evidence'. Everything will confirm gods holy presence or be ignored.

So once a person professes faith then everything they say is suspect.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (4) May 02, 2017
Sorry bart didnt mean to ignore you
And yet these "scientists" still try to fit everything into their pre-conceived boxes....
Also funny is how faithers will expect us to believe that their arguments are based on reason while scientists arguments are based in faith.

Everything they do and say and think is faith-based. Heck, they think faith is the most reasonable thing there is. It is certainly more efficient - answers before the questions are even asked.

So we've got to assume that when they presume to argue from reason it is a form of deception, either of us or of themselves or both.

And since all commandments must be broken in defence of faith, then theyre perfectly ok with that.
ddaye
not rated yet May 02, 2017
Is it wrong that I'm laughing at certain philosophies when I see that our closest relative is the one noted for frequent sex?

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