Thursday, December 9, 2010

Our Family Tree: Chimps, Bonobos And Our Commonality (MRCA behavioral speculation)

Our Family Tree: Chimps, Bonobos And Our Commonality : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR:


The MRCA of humans, chimpanzees, and bonobos is indicated by the dashed circle in Our Family Tree. Circa 6 million years ago — an eyeblink in evolutionary time — there occurred a bifurcation, with the Homo lineage moving along one path to present times and the Pan lineage moving along a second. More recently, some one to two million years ago, a second bifurcation occurred, yielding Pan troglodyte (common chimpanzee) and Pan paniscus (bonobo).

So here’s the six-million-dollar question: What was the human-chimp-bonobo MRCA like? A great ape for sure. But what about behavior? Was it Homo-like? Pan-like? And what do we mean by such distinctions?

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