CHIMP RIGHTS. Andrew...

CHIMP RIGHTS. Andrew Stuttaford notes that Spain's Socialist Party is pushing a bill to give great apes legal rights in part on the grounds that "humans share 98.4% of our genes with chimpanzees, 97.7% with gorillas, and 96.4% with orangutans." Jonah Goldberg objects to the whole DNA-sharing methodology, and I think there are some good reasons for doing so. That said, I think the eye-opening genetic fact, apes-wise, is that chimpanzees and bonobos are more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas or any other animal. Indeed, the percentage method tends to obscure the closeness of the relationship and seems to bolster the intuitive view that chimps are closer to gorillas. Genetics aside, chimps can, famously, learn human sign languages and communicate with people, though they lack the requisite vocal apparatus to speak our languages. I sort of prefer not to say it, because it seems like one of those goofy things "those people" would say, but the case for granting "human rights" to, at a minimum, chimpanzees strikes me as much stronger than your average homo sapien is aware. Of course, here in the USA, where a substantial minority doesn't believe in evolution, I think this'll be a non-starter, but good for Spain.

--Matthew Yglesias

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