Thursday, September 01, 2005

Science Update: "Oi...perangai macam monyet!" We are like chimpanzees after all, sort of.

I guess most of us know that we share 98% of our DNA with the chimpanzees, making them the CLOSEST (not closet as before) relative to us. Today, 1st of September, is considered a historic day in bioscience as the chimpanzee's genome (the whole genetic blueprint of the chimpanzee)was published in the latest edition of Nature, a reputable scientific journal.

According to its special focus website,

What makes us human? We share more than 98% of our DNA and almost all of our genes with our closest living relative, the chimpanzee. Comparing the genetic code of humans and chimps will allow the study of not only our similarities, but also the minute differences that set us apart.

Providing a resource for more than just genomics, Nature presents a special web focus to commemorate the genome of Pan troglodytes. Alongside the first unequivocal fossil evidence of the genus Pan, leading researchers have kindly supplied Nature with previously-unseen film of experiments and observations of chimps in the wild and from world-renowned sanctuaries. Selected films relate to papers published in the chimp genome special issue. Enjoy FREE ACCESS to an incredible gallery of chimpanzee behaviour courtesy of Nature and the people behind the science.
For news, interactive graphics, features, a roll call of famous chimps and more, see's chimp genome special

Image copyrighted to Nature Publishing Group

Some of the interesing facts picked up from the interactive graphic activity.

Are chimpanzee more promiscuous than human? (Benglish: Eh, itu beruk monyet macam manusia punya suka kongket lebih dari kita kah?)
Chimpanzees are far more promiscuous that humans, a fact demonstrated by the impressive size of their testes. Relative to body size, a male chimpanzee's testes are ten times larger than a man's, with a prolific sperm-production capacity to match. And they need it - female chimpanzees don't stand by their man; they have multiple partners, which means that male chimpanzees need to produce as much sperm as possible to give themselves the best chance of fathering offspring during the ensuing 'sperm war'. And female chimpanzees, besides maximizing their chances of reproducing with a genetically superior male, also benefit from the confusion over paternity - a male is less likely to kill a young chimp if there's a chance he fathered it.

Can chimps learn and think? (Benglish: Eh...jangan pikiak macam beruk, perangai macam beruk!)
Humans are the undisputed world champions of brain power, but how far behind are chimps? Studies of both captive and wild chimps have shown that they can pick up both maths and language.

A captive chimp called Ai managed to learn the numbers one to nine, and could arrange a selection of three single-figure numbers in order - as long as they weren't too close together in value. Even in the wild, numbers play a simple role in chimp behaviour. A chimpanzee will usually only attack a solitary male from another group if accompanied by two accomplices or more. And a male chimp's response to rival calls will vary depending on the size of the group he is travelling in.

Chimpanzees have also shown great facility for language. Some can understand and follow verbal instructions such as "Take the keys and put them in the refrigerator", whereas others have mastered an impressive vocabulary using sign language.

Make an effort to click on the links for more pictures and videos. Most of the contents are free. It is definitely a good read indeed.

So we are not so different from an animal after all. That explains why some us still wields a weapon in a general assembly publicly.

Don't talk about Darwinism and religion to me here. I only believe in genes. So, there is not quite an ultimate race in this world (which includes Malaysia) after all.

My last quote:

"It's not the genes which make us different. It's the expression of them which makes some of us more corrupt, more greedy, more discriminatory, and more racist."

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