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Well I'll Be A Monkey's Uncle 648

killproc writes "A new report suggests that interbreeding between humans and chimpanzees happened a lot more recently than was previously thought. The report, published in the most recent issue of the journal Nature, estimates that final break between the human and chimpanzee species did not come until 6.3 million years ago at the earliest, and probably less than 5.4 million years ago."
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Well I'll Be A Monkey's Uncle

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  • Scientists: Humans and Apes share a common ancestor.

    Creationists: No they don't, God created us all as we are now.

    Scientists: To clarify, we're actually descended from the interbreeding between our ancestral humans and early chimps, which created a third, infertile "hybrid" species, the human equivalent of a mule. Though incapable of breeding among its own, the hybrid is believed to have survived by mating with its parent human or chimp species.

    Scientists: Oh, and our ancestor's were happily getting up to monkey business with their cousins (so to speak) for four million years after the split!

    Creationists: Oh right, that clears that up then! Cheers :-)

    (Second scientist line ripped off [] from the rather good article on this subject on the Guardian's website.)
  • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:15AM (#15357546)
    I liked my headline a whole lot better:
    Was Your Ancestor a Monkey F**ker?
  • before a chimp became attractive enough to mate with.
    I mean all that hair and leathery lips! Gotta be some serious drinking before she looks good.
  • "from the blame-killproc*-for-the-title dept."

    Brilliant, Zonk!

    *article submitter
  • by Tx ( 96709 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:19AM (#15357576) Journal
    Why, Steve Ballmer [] of course ;)
  • Anyone feel there is a Steve Ballmer joke to be made here?
  • Key line from TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:20AM (#15357581) Homepage Journal
    "The Nature paper joins a wave of work showing that the lines between species are hazy ..."

    This is the critical point that creationists who blather on about "macroevolution vs. microevolution" (a distinction without a difference) and "nobody has ever observed a speciation event" (just not true) willfully miss. Species lines are imposed by observers after the fact; they are not inherent in the nature of living organisms.
    • Re:Key line from TFA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:36AM (#15357743)
      To be honest the creationists' argument always reminded me to Zeno's motion paradox []. That's what you get when you try to view a continous process as a number of separate things. Evolution is continous and there is no division/distinction between macro- and microevolution the same way Achilles leaves the turtle behind, contrary to creationist belief.
    • My Plant Systemics professor Dr Doebley [] said that the greatest amount of speciation occurs when plants and creatures are wiped out. Essentially, if you nuked the amazon rain forest flat, you would create the largest amount of species ever. The reason being is what you quoted. The only way to truly define a species is to stop it from evolving, and that is only possible when they all are dead.


  • This is not news [].
  • by caffeinatedOnline ( 926067 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:20AM (#15357590) Homepage
    According to my wife, it happened just last night...
  • I'm sure there are better ones on the `Net, but this one [] seemed 'good enough'. Gives an idea of the time frame these scientists work with. 5.4 to 6.3 million years ago was ... a long fucking time ago. But in the grand view, not really that big of a deal.
  • Misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reckless Visionary ( 323969 ) * on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:21AM (#15357592)
    What this shows is that there was likely interbreeding between the ancestor line of humans and the ancestor line of chimpanzees. Unfortunately, all the headlines I've read skip that distinction and dive right into "humans and chimps interbred." They were not either modern humans or modern champanzees, and were likely much closer in genetics and appearance than we are to modern chimps, even though even now we are very close genetically after 5 million years of divergence.
  • more alt headlines (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:21AM (#15357594)
    A sampling of real headlines courtesy of Google News:

    Gr-ape lengths made in human DNA study []
    Men mated with chimps for 1m years [] (now that's endurance!)
    A chimp off the ol' block []
    Chimps & Early Man couldn't stop lovin' []
    Grandma Manimal []

    And they keep going and going...
  • Mod Title Up! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) * <> on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:21AM (#15357600) Homepage Journal
    What a great way to start off the day with a laugh!
  • *blush* (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:22AM (#15357606) Homepage Journal
    A new report suggests that interbreeding between humans and chimpanzees happened a lot more recently than was previously thought.

    That was weeks ago, and it was on a dare. Let's speak no more of this.

    • Re:*blush* (Score:2, Funny)

      by slushbat ( 777142 )
      So it's true, you did fuck a human! Pervert!
    • Re:*blush* (Score:3, Insightful)

      A small zoo acquires a rare gorilla, who quickly becomes agitated. The zookeeper determines that the female ape is in heat, but there are no male apes available for mating.

      The zookeeper approaches Rob with a proposition. "Would you be willing to have sex with this gorilla for $500?" he asks.

      Rob accepts the offer, but only on three conditions: "First, I don't want to have to kiss her. And second, you can never tell anyone about this." The zookeeper agrees to the conditions and asks about the third.

      "Well," sa
    • by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @12:14PM (#15358099) Journal
      A guy on vacation goes to the big city as a tourist when he makes the acquaintance of someone named Sal. Sal is a gregarious guy, knows everything about the city, and seems to have done everything it is possible to have done, so tourist guy is happy to have him along as a companion.

      During their travels, Sal points to a block of row homes. "See those houses? I was on the construction crew that built those, and maybe half the other houses in this neighborhood. But do they call me "Sal, the home builder?" No."

      Later, while crossing a bridge, Sal points to a spot on the river below. "See that? Right there, there was this rowboat with a bunch of kids in it, which capsized. Idiot parents didn't put lifejackets on the kids. So I had to jump in and save the little guys. Seven kids, I pulled out of the water! But do they call me, "Sal, the saver of drowning children?" No."

      Later still, they're passing the metropolitan zoo. Sal looks particularly steamed. "Okay. See the primate house over there?"

      "I fucked ONE chimp..."
  • At last! (Score:5, Funny)

    by gowen ( 141411 ) <> on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:22AM (#15357607) Homepage Journal
    Robin Williams' body hair explained.
  • It is not known why human ancestors would have begun mating with chimpanzee ancestors again, or why they would have stopped.

    Yeah, I heard that once you've had Chimp Poontang you just can't get enough...

  • by tsunamiiii ( 975673 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:22AM (#15357610)
    Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!
  • by Hamster Lover ( 558288 ) * on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:25AM (#15357635) Journal
    I know the headline was probably meant as a joke, but before the Creationists go, um, ape on us it should be noted that Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Bonobos, Orangutangs and Man are all "great apes", evolved from earlier species. Apes evolved from Old World Monkeys about 25 million years ago.

    Apes are differentiated from monkeys by their larger brain size, versatile shoulder joints, and lack a tail.
  • And now you know why the Scopes monkey trials. (By the way, it's only 6.3 weeks ago in Kansas.)
  • by Gulik ( 179693 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:31AM (#15357699) break between the human and chimpanzee species did not come until 6.3 million years ago at the earliest, and probably less than 5.4 million years ago.

    They should go to the mall sometime and revise their estimate accordingly.
  • Oh sure, and I was just starting to get over it. Yeah, we had our ups and downs but doesn't everyone?! I thought we were going to be together forever! Now, my psychiatrist says I'm well on the road to good mental health again and you bring this up! Christ, it was 5.4 MILLION YEARS AGO...why do you have to keep reminding me?!
  • Hold it a second! (Score:5, Informative)

    by anzha ( 138288 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:36AM (#15357744) Homepage Journal

    John Hawks [], a professor of anthropology, has a pretty sound and harsh refutation [] of the article. It looks like, if John is to be followed, that this is some pretty wishful thinking and sloppy work.

    He has a follow-up [] post on his weblog as well.

    • by espressojim ( 224775 ) <> on Thursday May 18, 2006 @12:06PM (#15358026)
      Well, as a bioinformaticist who has been following this work for a while (both the first and last authors, along with most of the others present at our weekly group meeting), I'd say that the work isn't sloppy.

      It is controversial, as it doesn't match with the fossil record. But if you knew the guys involved (and the internal vetting process at the Broad), you'd understand that this work has gone through massive peer review by some of the most gifted individuals in genetics I've seen.

      I'd guess that John Hawks isn't a genetics specialist (Just as David isn't an anthropologist), so when data starts conflicting, it's hard for anyone to give ground. I think it's exciting, because it allows for more experiments to be divised on both ends, and for more clarification to be arrived.

      In other words, the scientific process.
      • by Wabin ( 600045 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @12:36PM (#15358317)
        Ugh. As a genetecist whose lab does work on this stuff (I personally avoid human data, but do work on speciation), I would say that one of the good points Hawks makes is that there is a lot of work that should have been cited that wasn't. They present their paper as if they are the first to suggest that there was a period of human-chimp hybridization. I won't go into the older literature, some of which they do cite, but more recently, Navarro and Barton (2003) [] (link may be behind paywall, sorry) provided some evidence for extensive hybridization. Also, Osada and Wu (2005) [] (which is cited, but really really strangely) were more explicit in their claim of hybridization (though here they refer to it as disproof of pure allopatry (a rapid event driven by geographic isolation)). Some of the methods in the "new" paper appear to be directly derived from tests in Osada and Wu. The work itself is good, but maybe not as groundbreaking as they would like to believe. Personally, I was just waiting for a good data set to come up with better evidence for something I was quite confident of already. This does that.

        I also happen to think that as we investigate more and more pairs of close species, we will find this is not at all an uncommon pattern. There are lots of hybrids out there in nature, and you can be sure that genes make it across "species boundaries" with some regularity for quite a while.

        One final note to destroy my credibility. Is anyone surpised that people had sex with chimps? (Okay, proto-humans with proto-chimps) We are a couple of horny species. I don't know too much about chimp sexual habits, but we humans sure are a kinky bunch to boot.

      • Yeah, that's the scientific process all right. A bunch of people give extra weight to what certain people say based on social networks.

        History is filled with wrong science being accepted for social reasons.
        • Actually, I base my 'extra weight' based on the fact that I've seen larger presentations and heard more discussion on the topic than what was in the Nature paper. I've heard the arguements go back and forth between experts on exactly how this data was collected and how to interpret it.

          It's not that I'm friends with the author. I happen to have a much greater exposure to the study as it was in progress than anyone outside of the institute who attended all the talks.
  • I thought the last 2 US presidential elections were evidence of much more recent human-chimp interbreeding. Did I miss a meeting or something? Maybe it was orangs...
  • by shotgunefx ( 239460 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:39AM (#15357770) Journal
    Hell, some people [] are still screwing animals so I wouldn't be that suprised.
  • I have a niece who is very skilled at climbing and swinging from trees!
  • Please, you unenlightened folks all have it wrong. It's an indisputable fact that the Flying Spaghetti Monster implanted that genetic information in Humans and Chimps just to make it LOOK like we're evolved from a common ancestor. He's so sneaky!

    Arrrrrrrr matey...
  • Misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shihar ( 153932 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:43AM (#15357807)
    I hate to quibble, but the summary is not quite right. It isn't like there were chimpanzees, humans evolved "up" from chimpanzees, and the chimpanzees remained the same. This isn't how evolution works. What happened was that a single species broke into two separate species. Both species continued to change and evolve. A chimpanzee has done just as much "evolving" as a human has, it just went in a different direction. Whatever the case though, if you were to compare a chimpanzee ancestor to a human and a modern chimp, you would find that you are looking at three very different species.

    I am not saying that human evolution isn't teh pwn, but keep in mind that things don't "branch" like in a tree where the original branch remains. When things branch they move off in different directions and the original species before the branch is lost.
  • Linky. []

  • Bush was right! []

    Now if we could just figureout how to make a human-chimpanzee hybrid with four butts.
  • Let's not forget that Chimps have been evolving along the way as well - I highly doubt that they were the same 4.5-6.3M years ago as they are now, so *our ancenstors* were doing it with *their ancestors*, not with "chimps" per se.
  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:49AM (#15357885)
    We'll, I'm curious, since there appears to be relatively recent common ancestry. Do we know if humans can successfully mate with any other primate?
  • by menace3society ( 768451 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @12:00PM (#15357971)
    Now all the furries are going to come out and say that what they do is perfectly natural. Damn you, science, damn you.
  • Debating (Score:4, Funny)

    by devphaeton ( 695736 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @12:03PM (#15358004)
    I'm surprised that nobody got killed trying to release this blasphemous information.

    1) Earth older than 6000 years? check
    2) Support of evolution? check
    3) bestiality OMGWTFBBQ!! check

    The fundies must be clawing their own skin off reading this!
  • by enforcer999 ( 733591 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @12:04PM (#15358011) Journal
    Gosh, that gets on my every last nerve! Apes are not monkeys and chimps are apes! Now I feel better. Thank you very much!
  • MISLEADING! (Score:5, Informative)

    by posterlogo ( 943853 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @12:22PM (#15358162)
    The blurb is very misleading. There was no "intercourse between humans and chimps" because THERE WERE NO humans or chimps back then. We did not evolve from chimps, humans and chimps simply had COMMON ancestry, a very long time ago. What this means is that the ancient ancestor of humans was able to, for a period of time, interbreed with the ancient ancestor of chimps. They were NOT that different back then. They may not have even looked very different. However, the genetic code was beginning to diverge because they had formed into two isolated populations, and then came back together briefly, before diverging forever into the lineages we can observe today. This "messy" split theory is still not entirely proven, but is an interesting analysis based on genetic sequence divergance data obtained from hundreds of specimens.
  • by Lispy ( 136512 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @12:38PM (#15358343) Homepage
    As everyone knows the secondborn were created by Iluvatar and the Valar.
    The interbreeding occurded in Angband where Morgoth created the orks and in Isengart where Saruman created the Urugh.
    Are all songs forgotten since the Eldar left?

  • I get it... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @01:26PM (#15358884)
    We look so much like monkeys, we must have fucked them at some point. Brilliant science! An epiphany struck over a pint of Guinness no doubt.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @02:31PM (#15359546)
    I mean, after all, we now have proof it is for propagation...

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson