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How similar are we really to chimpanzees? Are the differences so minuscule that we should grant chimpanzees human rights?
In Not a Chimp: the hunt for the genes that make us human, former BBC producer Jeremy Taylor explores our true relationship with chimps while looking into the latest research from genetics, cognition and neuroscience to help inform a century long debate.
Taylor wanted to explore this issue beyond the age-old view: that we are almost genetically identical with chimps as we share 98.4% of our genetic make-up. Indeed, as Peter Forbes form The Independent points out in his review of the book:
All living things use the same cellular machinery, and in that sense we are also 30 per cent banana.
It is this oversimplification of scientific fact that Taylor aims to dissect in his first book:
In many ways, this book is born out of frustration for a professional career in popular science television where ideas about comparative primate cognition, and the similarities and differences between us and our primate relatives, have continually circled me but constantly evaded my grasp in terms of the opportunity to transform them into science documentary. On the plus side, keeping a watching brief for over a quarter of a century on subjects like comparative animal cognition and evolution allows you to watch a great deal of water flow under the bridge. Fashions come and fashions go – specifically, perspectives on the similarity – or otherwise – of human and ape minds, he writes in the preface.
Recognising that this is a debate far from being settled, Taylor regularly updates his dedicated blog with relevant press articles and scientific papers that have been published since he wrote the book , as well as links to a number of websites that examine the relationship between humans and chimpanzees.
The book is available to purchase from Amazon and other outlets.
Last edited: 11 January 2022 08:53