Thursday, May 18, 2006

Chimp love on the savannah

I've recently been attending a reading group which consists of a lot of population geneticists and people generally interested in evolution. Not a lot of Republicans there.

Last night they brought a copy of a brand new article that was just published in Nature magazine which was just mentioned on Slashdot, which shows evidence that in fact Neanderthals (?) and chimpanzees may have interbred much more recently than widely thought. The species tree they showed involved an ancestral species branching off into two (chimpanzees and another species which I assumed were Neanderthals), then both species splitting off a subpopulation that interbred which became humans. The chimpanzees survived, and the Neanderthals died out. As someone who knows nothing about biology, even I understand how amazing and important this discovery is to the field.

Here's what some of the fine scientific minds present had to say about it:

  • "Chimp love on the savannah!"

  • "I can just imagine these two species on opposite sides of a clearing, sort of eyeing each other, saying, 'I think this could work!'"

  • "It's like on the Simpsons last week. Did anyone see that?"

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