Chimpanzee birthing offers new insights into our common ancestor and gives creationists something new to think about.
Similarities between chimpanzees and humans have been used as evidence of evolution since Darwin. And rightly so. With the discovery that human chromosome 2 is in fact a fusion of two ancestral chromosomes, still separate in our close relatives (chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans), the comparison between humans and chimpanzees has perhaps never been more cited in arguments for human evolution.
Well an article in Nature News this week has added further credence to this argument with the confirmation that chimpanzees give birth to young that face away from their mothers (occiput anterior orientation), like humans and unlike other primates. This suggests, in accordance with the molecular data, that chimpanzees and humans share a more recent common ancestor not shared by other great apes who branched off the ancestral tree earlier. Frankly I’m a little surprised it took so long to establish this fact, but apparently female chimpanzees are quite unwilling to be observed when giving birth (understandable).
The original article from Biology letters cited by the news item is below.
Hirata, S. , Fuwa, K. , Sugama, K. , Kusunoki, K. & Takeshita, H.Biol. Lett. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0214 (2011).