Washington D.C. [USA], April 29 : Scientists have found that the muscular system of bonobos - a rare great ape species with a black face and black hair - may be more closely linked anatomically to the human ancestors than common chimpanzees.
A researcher Bernard Wood from George Washington University in the US said bonobo muscles have changed least, which means they are the closest we can get to having a 'living' ancestor.
Scientists believe that modern human and common chimpanzee/bonobo lineages split about eight million years ago with the two great ape species splitting about two million years ago.
The team examined seven bonobos from the Antwerp Zoo that had died and were being preserved according to them, it was an extremely rare opportunity given bonobos' status as an endangered species.
The researchers found that by studying the muscles of bonobos, they were able to discover that they are more closely related to human anatomy than common chimpanzees, in the sense that their muscles have changed less than they have in common chimpanzees.
Earlier studies examined the DNA similarities and differences between bonobos and common chimpanzees, but this was the first study to compare the muscles of the three species.
Lead study author Rui Diogo from Howard University explained that their study has shown that there is a mosaic evolution of the three species, in the sense that humans share some features with bonobos, some with chimpanzees and others by the two ape species.
Diogo further stated that each of the chimpanzees species share about three percent of genetic traits with humans that are not present in the other chimpanzee species.
The scientists note that having a clear understanding of what makes humans different from our closest living relatives might lead to new breakthroughs or understandings of human health.