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Anthropology: Phylogenetic, Essay Example

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Phylogeny is the genetic relatedness based on common ancestry. The great apes, specifically chimpanzees and gorillas are most closely related to humans. Primatologists have gathered much evidence to support this relationship. Humans and apes share physical, temperament, and behavioral characteristics. There are similarities in learned and cultural behavior, as well.

The physical similarities between humans and apes are recognized in zoological taxonomy. Humans and apes belong to the same taxonomic classification of Hominoidea. The great apes and humans share similarities in anatomy, brain structure, genetics, and biochemistry. Some shared physical characteristics include the hand as main tactile organ, dental structure, shoulder blade structure, and beard and mustache.  Chimpanzees and gorillas are diurnal, as are humans.

Both humans and apes share a learned reliance on the manufacture and use of tools. Through observations, primatologists have learned apes demonstrate cultural diversity in patterns of tool use. This, too, is shared with humans. Another similar characteristic is that the care and teaching ape parents give their offspring mirrors that which humans give their children. To support this prolonged care of offspring, apes live in defined groups. They interact socially, gathering together, grooming, playing, and caring for the young. The ability of the great apes to learn extends to language, as sign language studies with both gorillas and chimpanzees have been successful.

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