The fossil records suggest that early humans first evolved in Africa. From there, we spread out and evolved, eventually becoming the homo sapiens that we are today. There have been other human species on Earth, although they are all now extinct, leaving us the only ones remaining. Even so, we do still have some very close relatives remaining on the planet. One of these is the bonobo and, alongside chimpanzees, they are our closest relative of all.
As our closest relative, the bonobo shares many similarities with us and chimps. They also share many distinct differences, most notably their peaceful nature. When compared with us, bonobos are pacifists, looking for a peaceful solution to disputes over violence every time. They are also highly intelligent animals and have shown advanced problem solving and communication abilities. Unfortunately, these gentle creatures have suffered at the hands of mankind for a number of reasons and we may lose them altogether if we are not careful.
These gentle animals are fascinating to watch, and they can teach us a great deal about our own evolution. They have been studied in detail by researchers and we have learned some incredible facts about them.
Bonobo Fact #10: Our Closest Relatives
Of the countless different species on Planet Earth, the bonobo is our closest living relative along with the chimpanzee. We share 98.7% of our DNA with them, which is more than we share with our next closest relative, the gorilla. We are so closely related, that some experts think that the bonobo and chimpanzees belong in the homo genus. It is thought that our common ancestors would have lived on Earth around six million years ago, which is very recent in evolutionary terms.
They are not our closest relatives ever to have existed though, and other human species have roamed Earth in the past. Perhaps the best known of these is Homo neanderthalensis, commonly known as Neanderthals. This now extinct species of human become extinct around 40,000 years ago, and lived side by side with homo sapiens which is the species we belong to. There have also been numerous other species of human. Fossil records show that the first human species were on earth around 14 million years ago.