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Still Waters

'Uniquely human' muscles discovered in apes

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Still Waters

Muscles once thought 'uniquely human' have been discovered in several ape species, challenging long-held theories on the origin and evolution of human soft tissues. The findings question the anthropocentric view that certain muscles evolved for the sole purpose of providing special adaptations for human traits, such as walking on two legs, tool use, vocal communication and facial expressions

"This study contradicts key dogmas about human evolution and our distinct place on the 'ladder of nature,'" says Rui Diogo, an Associate Professor in the Department of Anatomy at Howard University, Washington, USA. "Our detailed analysis shows that in fact, every muscle that has long-been accepted as 'uniquely human' and providing 'crucial singular functional adaptations' for our bipedalism, tool use and vocal and facial communications is actually present in the same or similar form in bonobos and other apes, such as common chimpanzees and gorillas."


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Bonobos look like something that was headed for bipedalism and then did a U-turn back to the trees.

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Posted (edited)

A 'ladder of nature' is a rather old-fashioned picture of evolution. Even an evolutionary 'tree' with humans at the very top has be de-emphasized in favor of something  like a bush. In this metaphor, species branch off in various directions, over time, without a rigid hierarchy.

If humans appear near the top of the bush, it only because we are relative newcomers in the history of life, and the 'bush' spreads upward and outward  as it grows. It would be just as valid to place us near the outer part of the side of the 'bush' rather than the top.

It is only because of our own natural self-interest that we may imagine ourselves near the top.  It is only by defining what it is to be human as 'best' that we can view ourselves as more 'progressed' than  any other form of life.

It appears that humans have made unique uses of many evolutionary features which we actually have in common with other primates, rather than these suddenly appearing in humans to serve a specific need.  

Edited by bison
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