Grandma was a Chimp – Hide the Bananas

Boston scientists released a provocative report yesterday
that challenges the timeline of human evolution and suggests that human
ancestors bred with chimpanzee ancestors long after they had initially
separated into two species.

The researchers, working at the Cambridge-based Broad Institute of Harvard
and MIT, used a wealth of newly available genetic data to estimate the
time when the first human ancestors split from the chimpanzees. The team
arrived at an answer that is at least 1 million years later than paleontologists
had believed, based on fossils of early, humanlike creatures.

The lead scientist said that this jarring conflict with
the fossil record, combined with a number of other strange genetic patterns
the team uncovered, led him to a startling explanation: that human ancestors
evolved apart from the chimpanzees for hundreds of thousands of years,
and then started breeding with them again before a final break.

”Something very unusual happened," said David Reich, one of the
report’s authors and a geneticist at the Broad and Harvard Medical School.

Not so unusual – as any experienced relationship counselor will testify,
there is often a heartfelt attempt at reconcilliation before the final
break occurs – although it doesn’t usually last a couple of hundred thousand

This research is sure to roil the already murky waters
surrounding the evolution debate. We can hear the religious right now
– "Heresy! Beastiality! Abomination!" At the same time, it may help explain
our attraction to hairy women….

from the
Boston Globe

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