Prof Steve Jones considers the consequences of human rights for chimps
David Hammerstein is a Spanish Green who supports a Bill to accord rights to chimpanzees on the grounds that "their social and emotional needs are at the same level as handicapped people, small children, or the elderly and mentally impaired".Jones goes on to note the main argument of the other side is that 98 percent of the DNA of chimps and humans is identical.
That strikes me as a dangerous argument if applied in reverse and, although some of my best friends are primates, it is also entirely arbitrary. If chimps have rights, why not gorillas; if gorillas, why not monkeys; and if monkeys, why not mice or mynah birds? Certainly, all those creatures deserve respect - but where do we draw the line?
Of course where DNA is concerned, 2 percent can make a huge difference.
...the DNA responsible for powerful muscle proteins is also out of action in humans compared with chimps (to wrestle with our closest relative, whatever its rights, is always a mistake). A tea party organised by those African primates might also prove a risky experience, for they have a whole series of enzymes that detoxify poisons and allow them to eat plants that would be fatal to humans.Personally, I've always thought that chimps aren't very much like people. But there are some people who are very much like chimps.
In addition we are, compared with them, creatures of regrettably poor taste, for a whole series of DNA segments involved in gustatory experience have rusted away in Homo sapiens but survive in chimps. We smell, by the way, even worse.
It's like that old Bing Crosby chestnut says: All the monkeys aren't in a zoo. Everyday you meet quite a few.
tagged: monkey, chimpanzee, chimp, human rights, DNA, genetics, Karl Pilkington