ThisÂ story caught my attention recently. It is about a hunter sweating out genetic tests on the bear he’d killed. Had he killed a grizzly he’d have been in trouble. He was happy to hear that he’d shot a half grizzly – half polar bear mix.
Evolution has had a billion years for such instances to occur and apparently we humans did a little mixing ourselves with Chimpanzees for a million or so years after we began diverging from them genetically. That’s what the analysis of our species DNA suggests
The first time I can remember hearing about this was in grade school when my family visited a zoo with ligers in it. Ligers are half lions half tigers. Mules too are well known hybrids of horses and donkeys. I read an article a few years ago about the world of animal husbandry being rocked by the discovery of a mule that was fertile. Apparently one common casualty of different species successfully interbreeding is their offspring’s fertility. Just a minute let me do a google followup on that story …….Oh here, very interesting.
I read an interesting book ten years ago Wonderful Life by Stephen Gould. It was all about the “explosion” of life in the precambrian era when animals seem to have gotten past our 800 million-year long, single cell, stage of life. Gould said scientists theorized that during this time there was in effect a massive experimentation as different types of critters had the ability to mix with each other leading to all sorts of odd beasts. Natural selection helped sculpt the best fit and began the familiar branches of the tree of life.
According to an old theory we all have bits of another lifeform in our cells called mitochondria. These are called the power plants of cells. It has been suggested that they a separate animal hundreds of millions of years ago that somehow got caught up in a symbiotic relationship (think lichens) with another one celled animal becoming an energy source for such things as locomotion. Today they are partÂ of most animalÂ cells and not a separate animal at all.
So, are we a monkey’s uncle? Of course not. Chimpanzee’s aren’t monkeys!