For the first time, scientists have revealed ancient gene mixing between chimpanzees and bonobos, humankind’s closest relatives, showing parallels with Neanderthal mixing in human ancestry. The study showed that one percent of chimpanzee genomes are derived from bonobos.
Only one percent? Keep the file open.
Paper. (public access) – Marc de Manuel et al. Chimpanzee genomic diversity reveals ancient admixture with bonobos. Science, 2016; 354 (6311): 477-481 DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2602
Chimpanzees and bonobos are the closest living relatives of human beings. They diverged from a common ancestor between 1.5 and 2 million years ago and live in different areas of tropical Africa. Until now, it was thought that gene flow between the species would have been impossible, as they were physically separated by the Congo River.
The study confirmed a main separation between chimpanzees and bonobos approximately 1.5 million years ago, and the presence of four chimpanzee subspecies in different regions. However, the researchers also found there were two additional gene flow events between the chimpanzee and bonobo populations, indicating that at least some individuals found their way across the river. More.
Can’t think why.
Only a very doctrinaire Darwinism would assume that they didn’t interbreed, even at risk, given any chance at all. The obvious reason for doubt would be the need to find instances of hard and fast speciation. But such instances may turn out to be many fewer than we suppose.
Another possible topic for a future Royal Society rethinking evolution meet would be: A real world view of hybridization: What it can and can’t do
See also: Hybridization as viable form of evolution
Red wolf not “endangered”; a hybrid?
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