In this week's Nature researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology declared analysis of the full genome of the Bonobo, once known as the pygmy chimpanzee or lesser chimpanzee. The work, they say, confirms that they are at least as and maybe more closely related to humans as regular chimps are. Some outlets are saying the work marks discovery of such close relationship but, as it's a common supposition, that overdoes it (see this from PLoS a year ago with, at a glance, at least one author in common with the Nature paper). This week's news perhaps makes it more official. More important, the gene sequences of all three may lead to better understanding why H. sapiens and Pan troglodytes - or standard chimps - are more aggressive, violent, and warlike than are the more peaceful, generous, matriarchal, and affectionate Pan paniscus. Some go so far as to call Bonobos the hippie chimps.
- Ars Technica - John Timmer: Researchers complete the genome of our promiscuous cousins ; Timmer declares that one sub-conclusion, that chimps and bonobos are exceedingly alike genetically, means that technically they might be considered the same species. But they clearly are not. So maybe the rules need adjusting.
- LiveScience - Jennifer Welsh: The bonobo, the chimp's sexpot cousin, get its genome mapped ;
- AP - Seth Borenstein: Scientists map DNA of bonobo, our peaceful ape kin; Seth called up a Duke ape authority to get an outside view of the work. He answers the reporter with a question, "Is the bonobo genome the secret to the biology of peace?" He also notes that the species might better be called Peter Pan, as it's behavior suggests an ape that never grew up.
- AAAS ScienceNOW - Ann Gibbons: Bonobos Join Chimps as Closest Human Relatives ; Ann dives in pretty deep to try to explain the percentage relationship differences among the three ape (including us) lineages, and the discovery that the closest affinities by humans are closer to chimps for some DNA sequences and to bonobos for others. gibbons gets outside comment from Franz de Waal at Emory U. in Atlanta, and arvard molecular anthropologist Maryellen Ruvolo.
- Scientific American (Guest Blog) Ricki Lewis: The Bonobo Genome and Rewinding the Tape of Life ;
- ... more, but time's up.
Grist for the Mill: Max Planck Inst. for Evolutionary Anthropology Press Release ;
- Charlie Petit