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Friday, March 2, 2012

Mystery as scientists find more DNA differences between chimps from two sides of the same river than humans from different continents

Chimpanzee populations that live as neighbours have more genetic variation than humans from different continents, a study has found.

The findings are believed to have important implications for chimp conservation.

Scientists studied DNA from 54 African chimpanzees looking for variations between different populations.

Even though the chimps lived in relative close proximity, with two groups separated only by a river, their populations were substantially more different genetically than humans from around the world.

The research is published today in the online journal Public Library of Science Genetics.

Professor Peter Donnelly, director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford University, who co-led the study, said: ‘Relatively small numbers of humans left Africa 50,000-100,000 years ago. All non-African populations descended from them, and are reasonably similar genetically.

‘That chimpanzees from habitats in the same country, separated only by a river, are more distinct than humans from different continents is really interesting. Read More