You're a Monkey's Nephew or Niece


In their famous debate over Darwin's findings about evolutionary biology, Bishop Wilberforce asked T.H. Huxley whether "It was it through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed his descent from a monkey?"

Recent genetic research suggests that this was a pretty good question after all. Apparently the ancestors of humans and chimps may have engaged in a little hanky-panky several million years ago. The hybrid offspring of this primate love match eventually evolved into modern homo sapiens.

Thought experiment: Crossbreeding between modern chimps and people would not likely produce (assuming it worked at all) fertile offspring because we now have 23 chromosome pairs and chimps have 24. I want to be very clear that I am not recommending that anyone try this experiment.

In response to Wilberforce's witticism, Huxley austerely replied "he was not ashamed to have a monkey for his ancestor; but he would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used great gifts to obscure the truth." Still sounds good to me.