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Gorillas Are Not That Different From Us, New Study Shows

Apr 04, 2016 11:40 AM EDT
Baby Gorilla Draws Visitors To Chicago's Brookfield Zoo
Kamba, a western lowland gorilla, holds her day-old son Zachary at the Brookfield Zoo in 2015, marking four generations of their kind in the zoo. A recent study showed that gorillas are not at all that different from humans.
(Photo : Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Researchers recently took a second look at the genome of gorillas to acquire fresh insight on their similarities and differences with us.

Using the DNA of a gorilla named Sue, researchers discovered that they are more genetically related to humans, more than what the previous results of the first gorilla genetic mapping in 2012 showed, as per a Reuters report.

The gorilla, according to Defenders of Wildlife, is one of the four species of great apes that are closely related to humans. The other three are chimps, bonobos and orangutans.

NH Voice reported that the latest genome sequencing of gorillas revealed only a 1.6 percent difference in the genes of gorillas and humans.

Chimps and bonobos are the closest relative of humans with only 1.2 percent gene divergence, while orangutans differ from humans by 3.1 percent.

Humans differ from one another by around 0.1 percent.

The study, published in the journal Science, also showed the areas where gorillas and humans are different. These include sensory perception, regulation of insulin, production of keratin and the immune and reproductive systems.

Christopher Hill, a genetic researcher at University of Washington and one of the authors of the study, told Reuters that researchers can better identify parts of the human genome that are related with complex language, higher cognition, and behavior and neurological diseases by looking at the difference between species.

Hill added that the availability of complete and accurate genomes for comparisons allowed the researchers to discover interspecies differences.

Gorillas can be found in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are listed in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as "critically endangered."

According to Sea World, female gorillas can only give birth around every four years with usually only one infant, and in rare occasions, they give birth to twins.

The populations of gorillas are in a constant decline due to diseases, poaching, habitat loss and civil unrest.

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