Sometimes I think the tree sloth is our closest relative. It’s dopey looking, moves slowly, smells really bad and only comes down from its perch to poop—certainly sums me up!
But in all seriousness, scientists have long-believed that the chimpanzee is our closest animal cousin, but now a new study challenges that assumption.
Some experts believe orangutans are our closest brothers and sisters, putting them one evolutionary notch above of chimpanzees.
Published in the Journal of Biogeography, scientists say that when you consider the physical traits of orangutans, they are a better match with humans, even though chimps and humans have 96% of the same genetics.
According to researchers humans share 28 unique physical characteristics with orangutans, but only 2 with chimps. A couple notable features include our mammary glands, humans and orangutans have the widest-separated mammary glands. Also, humans and orangutans both have hair lines well above our eyes, most other primates do not.
Now, I love orangutans. They are one of my favorite animals, but these claims seem anecdotal at best and many researchers feel the same way, saying the weight of all the genetic evidence must be considered. I agree.