Room at the Top of the Food Chain
by Mad Dog
chimps should be included in the human branch of the animal family tree.
Hanging by their tails, of course.
||We may not be the only
ones perched atop the animal kingdom for much longer. Not if a scientist
from Detroit has his way. According to him we may have to move over and
share the coveted spot with chimpanzees because he says they’re more
closely related to us than they are to gorillas, apes, or Crispin
Glover. Of course even if they were, they’d never admit to the latter.
The report appeared online in the Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences (motto: “Keep moving,
there’s nothing of interest here”). In it, Morris Goodman, a
researcher at Wayne State University, claims that a whopping 99.4 per
cent of the DNA in humans is identical to that in chimps, leading him to
declare that “Humans appear as only slightly remodeled chimpanzee-
like apes.” Keep in mind, of course, that scientists also consider soy
hot dogs, Cher, and the remake of The Nutty Professor to be just
slightly remodeled. He goes on to say that because of the remarkable
similarity in DNA, all chimps should be tested to see if they had
anything to do with the murders of Nicole Simpson or Laci Peterson. Just
kidding. Actually police have already questioned all the chimps that
live in California and they have iron-clad alibis.
The truth is, Goodman thinks chimps
should be included in the human branch of the animal family tree.
Hanging by their tails, of course. As it is now, humans, which are known
in scientific circles as Homo sapiens, are the only creatures in
the genus Homo. A genus, for those who slept through eight years
of science class because you stayed up late leafing through National
Geographic while buried under the covers holding a flashlight
searching for photographs of naked tribal women while telling yourself
it was preparing you for a career as an anthropologist, is a group of
closely related species. Of course if they’re too closely related they
can’t get married. Except if they live in West Virginia, parts of
Arkansas, or are Jerry Lee Lewis.
It’s hard to
believe that a measly 0.6 percent of DNA is all that separates furry,
feral, knuckle- dragging creatures that can’t say anything
intelligible from Sylvester Stallone, but who am I to argue with
Chimpanzees are currently classified in the genus Pan
along with bonobos, which are also known as pygmy chimpanzees, something
that insults both pygmies and other chimps, but if Goodman has his way
they’ll be moved into Homo. And hopefully receive a good
relocation package to offset the increased cost of being in a better
It’s hard to believe that a measly
0.6 percent of DNA is all that separates furry, feral, knuckle-dragging
creatures that can’t say anything intelligible from Sylvester
Stallone, but who am I to argue with science? Yet for all the
similarities the DNA accounts for, there are still a number of things
that very definitely differentiate us from chimpanzees:
-- Chimps eat bananas using their
feet. Humans eat supersized hamburgers with one hand while driving the
car, talking on the cell phone, changing a CD, and combing their hair
with the other.
-- Humans keep themselves entertained
by watching a TV show about a desperate woman who chooses a husband from
among a group of leather-masked men who look like they should be playing
the gimp in a community theater revival of Pulp Fiction. Chimps
pick bugs out of each other’s fur.
-- Humans wear clothes, generating a
quarter ton of laundry per person each year so they can hide their
bodies, then go online to stare at photographs of people who don’t
wear clothes. Chimps, on the other hand, only wear clothes when
they’re posing as business executives on greeting cards, in
advertisements, and on motivational posters no one with that 0.6 percent
DNA edge actually thinks are funny.
But for all these differences there’s still the problem of
that 99.4 percent similarity, which is personified by the one true
Famous chimps have silly names like Bonzo, Bubbles, J. Fred Muggs, and
Cheetah. Famous humans have sensible names like Regis Philbin, Jello
Biafra, and Mark Vincent. I mean, Vin Diesel.
-- Humans create products like soy
candles so vegans, New Agers, and people with more money than sense can
get romantic, procreate, multiply, and come up with even stupider ideas,
like the “Suffering Succotash” ice cream served by a shop in
Fredonia, NY which mixed corn and lima beans with vanilla ice cream.
Chimps pick bugs out of each other’s fur.
-- Humans get in an uproar when a
woman wants to play professional golf with the guys. Chimps think PGA
means Play Golf Annika.
-- Chimps often live in the mountains
and communicate by making noises and hand gestures. Humans climb
mountains and communicate using the Internet café that was built 18,000
feet up at the base camp of Mount Everest because, face it, you can
never be too far removed not to send emails to the office or receive
ones which promise bigger body parts, free satellite TV, and the ability
to lose 32 lbs while eating all the pizza you want.
-- Humans come up with ideas like
staging “Evel Knievel: the Rock Opera,” a production Jef Bek of Los
Angeles is putting together. Chimps pick bugs out of each other’s fur
while wondering which Bek will find first, his missing consonants or his
But for all these differences
there’s still the problem of that 99.4 percent similarity, which is
personified by the one true Missing Link: Carrot Top. Human or chimp? Homo
or Pan? One day maybe science actually will have all the answers.
©2003 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
Read them while eating a banana with your foot.