Chimps R'n't Us

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Michael Balter reports on the “First 4 Million Years of Human Evolution” meeting: “Primatologists Go Ape Over Ardi”.

At the end of the day, when the meeting was thrown open for discussion among the roughly 200 attendees, White countered McGrews argument, pointing to what he saw as the dangers of using a chimp model for the LCAs behavior. If we try to model the LCA or even the earliest hominids based on living chimps, which have these adaptations to [swinging in the trees], to moving through that canopy so well and so quickly that they can take down a red colobus monkey, we could be very misled. Ardipithecus probably couldnt do that, and the LCA probably couldnt do that.

The discussion appears to have been heated (as the reaction Lovejoy’s previous articles has been). The unwritten theme: if chimpanzees are a poor model for the human-chimpanzee common ancestor, why are we spending so much more money studying chimpanzees than other primates?