Should Chimpanzees be classed as humans?
A chimp called Santino in Furuvik Zoo in Sweden has rekindled interest in the similarities between chimpanzees and human beings by being observed to be capable of forward planning. Santino was observed stockpiling stones before the zoo opens so that he can throw them at visitors once they arrive. This proves that chimps have an 'inner world' in which they can imagine future situations by mapping the present situation against stored memories of past situations. This is the most advanced behaviour recorded in a chimp up to now, behaviour only ever previously recorded in humans. One question brought up in the Guardian's article (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/the-big-question-what-does-forwardplanning-reveal-about-chimps-relationship-to-humans-1641896.html) is whether humans should be classified as a variation on humans.
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genetically very similar
Chimps share more of their DNA with humans than with other species of great apes. Currently it is believed that we share about 98% of our DNA with chimps. Chimps are prone to many viral diseases that humans are, such as Ebola and HIV.
Our DNA is also 90% the same as a mouse, 60% the same as a fruit fly and 50% to a banana. (1) Now I do not think that any one would claim that we start calling these part of our extended family. DNA is a matter of proteins and protein production. Even the slightest differences give rise to great differences in the biological composition. From this it is quite obvious that chimpanzees should not be classed as humans.
intelligence level of chimps
Aside from the newly discovered behaviour in Santino, the intelligence of some chimps is on a par with human children. Chimps have been trained to remember strings of numbers, to communicate with signs and recognise words in human languages and to take part in very simple bartering. In the wild, chimpanzees can not only use tools, but also to use a set of two different tools to perform a complex job.
It is not intelligence which makes us human but creative language. Animals such as chimpanzees do not have the capacity to use language creatively. They have set responses and set actions, they cannot move away from these. They are all part of instinct. Humans however can use language creatively. We can put forward a proposition in several different sentences and they could all mean the same thing and we could all understand what is being said. It is this linguistic creativity that makes us human, not our intelligence.
<< Dogs have the intelligence to remember a set routine of tricks strung together, they understand sign language and recognize some human words. Does this make them human?
Chimps share some psychological and cultural similarities with humans. Chimps who have undergone medical experiments exhibit the classic behavioural symptoms shown by people who have suffered extensive torture. The hand gestures of chimps – such as the open-palm begging posture – are similar to those of humans and might derive from a common origin. Wild chimps have also been found to engage in a form of primitive warfare against neighbouring chimps. They also experience infectious yawning, when one yawning member of a group sets off yawning in everyone else. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/the-big-question-what-does-forwardplanning-reveal-about-chimps-relationship-to-humans-1641896.html) Groups of chimpanzees are said to have some similarities to that of human cultures – for instance, they pass down knowledge through generations and geographically separated groups of chimps will act differently, in the same way as human cultures have regional variations.
To class Chimpanzees as humans would require them to be given human rights. Most articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would not make sense when applied to a chimp – we cannot be reasonably expected to give chimps the right to a say in the government of the country and they probably wouldn't be interested in the provision of education. If they were not given human rights, and yet were still classified as human, that would suggest that a class of sub-humans exists who don't have to be granted full human rights, a very dangerous legal precedent that could be abused, say, to classify people with extreme learning difficulties as sub-human, or for categorisation as sub-human to be suggested as a punishment for severe offenses.
differences between a chimpanzee and a human
The human brain is about three times larger than the brain of chimps for our body size. Humans display mental capacities, such as true language and advanced creativity, that chimpanzees do not. However much we find similarities between human and chimpanzee intelligence, human behaviour is quite clearly more advanced. Humans are bipedal, a fact that makes their overall physical behaviour much more efficient than that of chimps. Humans have a much more varied diet than chimpanzees. Perhaps most importantly, humans have a unique history with each other over the last few millions of years that has been very rarely influenced by the contribution of chimps.
slippery slope argument
To classify chimps as animals will open up the human mindset to the idea of classifying anything that closely resembles us as human. Given the habit of many humans to personify everything – to the extent that natural phenomena are given human personalities and worshipped as Gods – this could easily spiral out of control. Chimpanzees are a popular candidate to be classified as humans because their appearance is so similar to ours and they have facial expressions and body language we can empathise with. Pigs have DNA very similar to our own - although not as similar as chimpanzees, enough to allow them to be used in medical experiments as the next best thing to humans – and they are also extremely intelligent animals. While very few other animals display intelligence levels similar to that of humans, machines are being built that eventually will (http://news.softpedia.com/news/PS3-Consoles-Make-One-Powerful-Human-Brain-68466.shtml). All that it will require is somebody with the imagination to empathise with them enough to consider them human.
We are classified as primates along with Chimps. As closely related as we may or may not be we ate 2 distinct creatures in behavior and appearance. Both primates, but not the same
What do you think?