When the ancestors of human beings and the ancestors of chimpanzees parted ways 6.3 million years ago, it was probably a very long goodbye. Some of their descendants may even have gone back for a final tryst.
That is the conclusion a group of scientists has reached, using a comparison of the genes of humans and their closest animal relatives to sketch a picture of human origins far more detailed than what fossil bones have revealed.
According to the new theory, chimps and humans shared a common apelike ancestor much more recently than was thought. Furthermore, when the two emerging species split from each other, it was not a clean break. Some members of the two groups seem to have interbred about 1.2 million years after they first diverged -- before going their separate ways for good.
If this theory proves correct, it will mean modern people are descended from something akin to chimp-human hybrids. That is a new idea, and it challenges the prevailing view that hybrids tend to die out.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
GOING APE OVER HUMANS
Thursday's talker is enough to make us pluck bugs out of our fur. The Washington Post reports:
Going back for some sweet, sweet monkey loving.