Human Evolution (1 of 2)

Evolutionary biologists are interested in understanding how humans fit into the history of life and how the processes of evolution have shaped us. Much scientific effort goes into studying human evolution, and as a result, our understanding of this area is moving forward rapidly, as new evidence emerges and hypotheses are tested, confirmed, discarded, or modified.

The location of our very own twig: Humans on the tree of life
This tree is based on morphological and genetic data. Chimpanzees and humans form a clade with DNA sequences that differ by only 1%1. This genetic similarity made it hard to figure out exactly how these two primates are related, but recent genetic studies have strongly suggested that chimpanzees and humans are each other’s closest living relative.2

Anthropoid phylogeny

1 Pennisi, E. 2002. Jumbled DNA separates chimps and humans. Science 298(5594):719–721.
2 Ruvolo, M. 1997. Molecular phylogeny of the Hominoids: Inferences from multiple independent DNA sequence data sets. Molecular Biology and Evolution 14:248–265.

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