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Chimpanzee
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Chimpanzee

Chimpanzees
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Primates
Family:Hominidae
Genus:Pan
Species
Pan troglodytes
Pan paniscus

The two species of chimpanzees are in the genus Pan. The best known chimpanzee is Pan troglodytes, the Common Chimpanzee, living in West and Central Africa. Its cousin, the Bonobo or Pygmy Chimpanzee (Pan paniscus), is found in the forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The boundary between the two species is formed by the Congo River.

Chimpanzee differences

Anatomical differences between Common and Pygmy Chimpanzees are slight, but in sexual and social behaviour there are marked differences. Common Chimpanzees have an omnivorous diet, a troop hunting culture based on beta males led by a relatively weak alpha, and highly complex social relationships; Bonobos, on the other hand, have a mostly vegetarian diet and an egalitarian, matriarchal, sexually promiscuous culture.

Taxonomic relationships

The genus Pan is nowadays considered to be part of the subfamily Homininae to which humans also belong, although humans were once segregated from the other great apes in different families. Biologists believe that the chimpanzees are the closest evolutionary relatives to human beings. Their common ancestor branched off from its latest common ancestor with us as recently as 4 to 7 million years ago, and they have 98 - 99.4% of their DNA in common with humans, which prompted biologist Jared Diamond to dub our species "the third chimpanzee". Some biologists believe that assigning chimpanzees to a different genus or even family than humans, a taxonomic division which Carolus Linnaeus instituted and later regretted, is an instance of anthropocentrism unjustified on biological grounds. Many modern primatologists now place all of the great apes, including humans, into one family, with all but the Orangutan in the same subfamily.