Wednesday, 29 August 2018

How similar are humans and orangutans?

From umbrella-making to learning how to self-medicate, we share plenty of skills with our fellow great apes
Fri 17 Aug 2018 17.31 BSTLast modified on Wed 22 Aug 2018 15.25 BST
When scientists talk about animals using tools, they’re not normally talking about the implements you might use to knock up some shelves. But while animals generally confine themselves to bashing things with the odd rock, in extraordinary footage broadcast last year as part of the BBC’s Spy in the Wild series, a wild female orangutan is seen using a saw she has found outside a hut to cut through a log – even pausing to blow away sawdust before continuing.
This human-like use of tools shouldn’t be that surprising to us. Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli orangutans are three of the eight living great ape species, alongside humans, eastern and western gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos. Humans and orangutans share 97% of their DNA, with their last common ancestor having lived an estimated 12-16m years ago. Only gorillas, bonobos and chimpanzees have more DNA in common with humans.

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