Your next Zoobooks issue, Apes, will tell you straight off that our DNA differs from that of a chimpanzee by only about 2%. Our similarities are easy enough to see: apes can stand upright, they have fingernails and fingerprints, large brains, expressive faces, and obvious intelligence. More than that, they have five fingers and toes, forward-looking eyes, 32 teeth, and ears that have the same kinds of wrinkles and lobes.

But apes, of course, are still vastly different from people. Gorillas, the largest apes, have shorter height averages than humans, and weigh a lot more.  All apes have longer arms than they do legs. They are also much stronger–any ape can be counted on to be more powerful than a human of similar size. They are considerably hairier than people, too.

The similarities amuse and puzzle us, and encourage us to protect these animals that are at such risk from poaching, logging, and bushmeat hunting. Africans who live near mountain gorillas are proud of them, and encourage tourists to come see them. Local children love the gentle gorillas in their midst, and grow up knowing firsthand that gorillas–and all apes–are special. 

Advertisements