Not a Chimp: The Hunt to Find the Genes that Make Us Human

Not a Chimp: The Hunt to Find the Genes that Make Us Human

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by Jeremy Taylor
     
 

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It is one of the best-known pieces of scientific trivia—that human DNA and chimpanzee DNA differ by a mere 1.6%. But are we then just chimps with a few genetic tweaks? Are our language and our technology just an extension of the grunts and ant-collecting sticks of chimps?

In Not a Chimp, Jeremy Taylor describes one of the great scientific quests of our

Overview

It is one of the best-known pieces of scientific trivia—that human DNA and chimpanzee DNA differ by a mere 1.6%. But are we then just chimps with a few genetic tweaks? Are our language and our technology just an extension of the grunts and ant-collecting sticks of chimps?

In Not a Chimp, Jeremy Taylor describes one of the great scientific quests of our times—the effort to discover precisely what makes humans different from other primates, especially our closest evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee. Drawing on state-of-the-art science, Taylor convincingly debunks the assertion that our two species are nearly identical genetically. He sketches the picture now emerging from cutting-edge research in genetics, animal behavior, and other fields to show that the so-called 1.6% difference is effectively much larger, leading to a profound divergence between the two species. Indeed, he explains that the evolution of the human genome has accelerated since the split of chimps and humans from a common ancestor more than six million years ago. In fact, at least 7% of human genes—almost one gene in ten—have accumulated changes within the last 50,000 years. Some of the genes that have changed orchestrate entire sets of other genes, and recent studies show that it is this complex interaction—rather than the action of individual genes—that underlies speech processes, brain development, and a host of other mechanisms that make humans unique.

We humans are far different, genetically speaking, than chimps. More than that, we have been the architects of our own evolution through the same processes that have produced our farm animals and crop plants. We are the apes that domesticated themselves.

"Should be mandatory reading for journalists who often reinforce the general public's misconception that chimps are practically human."
—New Scientist

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199227792
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
08/12/2010
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
7.60(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Jeremy Taylor is a science documentary film producer. His films have been aired as part of the televisions series "Nova" and the BBC's "Horizon," as well as on the Discovery Channel and National Geographic television.

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Not a Chimp: The Hunt to Find the Genes that Make Us Human 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stalked forward on her belly. She forgot to check the wind and the mouse shot up, suddenly alert. Spottedkit leaped forward in a desprite atempt. The mouse stopped in its tracks and sprang the other way. Spottedkit leaped forward. Her long legs gave an advantage. She gasped out of breath and stopped. The mouse ran inside its den. She would need to learn othe wise. She ran to its den. Pawing its inside with unsheathed paws. She grabbed the mouse. Its eyes looked directly at hers. She knew she couldn't hurt this creature. She went to camp with it alive in her jaws.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
**ScorchingSapphire padded in and scanned the forest.** Hmm.. **She jumped onto a log d smelled the air. Then leaped off and crotched down. She spotted a vole and walked forward. Then leaped on it and twisted his neck. Picked it vup and padded back to camp.**
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looked at the mouse, realizing its den was downwind from it. She gently creeped through the forest, making literally no sound. She stopped in the undergrowth separating the mous from its den, waited til the mouse was facing the other way, then punced, soundlessly, the mouse not getting a chance to move or even make a sound t alert other animals before a quick bite snapped its neck, killing it. She buried the prey and moved on.