Things About Humans We've Learned From Studying Primates

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Humans have always been fascinated by... well, humans. We want to know who we are—and that means finding out who we were in the past. To do that, we look to our closest living relatives: nonhuman primates. We share around 96% of our DNA with chimpanzees, genetically the closest of the great apes to humans, and we have a lot in common with them.

But what is it that separates us from the great apes? How do we differ from chimpanzees, and why is it us—rather than gorillas or orangutans—driving hybrid vehicles around and living in fancy apartments? Primatology—the study of primates —has spent centuries slowly piecing together behavioral, genetic and medical research about these close relatives of Homo sapiens, and what it has learnt has told us just us much about us as it has about the primates that so easily could have been us.

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