Thursday, September 01, 2005

Planet of the Apes

I was looking at a story online this morning ... two, actually, which when paired together, underscore the tragic nature of extinction:

1. Geneticists have recently discovered that a very small portion of DNA (about 26,000 bits, I believe), separates chimps from humanity, and that both chimps and humans share 99% of our active genetic material.

2. According to environmentalists, within a single generation we could see the near-extinction of the great apes and certain breeds of chimpanzees in the wild due to human encroachment (logging and habitat removal, hunting, and the onset of Ebola, which can be transmitted to them).

I know in the greater scheme of things, we have other concerns (the ongoing war in Iraq, the economy and rising prices, caring for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina) which are pressing, but it saddens me that we've discovered how close we are to another species and, at the same time, are now just realizing how poorly we have done by them.