Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Welcome to the new, furry, persons

This isn't great journalism. Bonobos are not the same as Chimpanzees. It is noteworthy, however, as a milestone in a journey of many centuries ...
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Chimps 'are people, too'

...According to philosopher Julian Baggini, it is possible that non-human animals like chimps could be people.

'You could say that an adult chimp has more of the characteristics of a person than a new born baby,' he says.

After all, though humans and chimps are different species, they share up to 99.4% of their most crucial DNA (the figure is difficult to calculate exactly and depends on the scientist you speak to). And to prove how similar we are to chimps, Danny takes part in a potentially humiliating experiment.

The scent of male sweat is controlled by their genes, in both chimps and men. In a blind test, three women were asked to sniff the sweat of Danny and Cody the chimp, to see which one they fancied most.

When they found out afterwards that one of the odours was from a chimp, there was laughter. When they realised that two out of three had preferred the chimp, there was nervous laughter...
I dimly recall a few biologists gingerly pointing out that we should probably be Pan sapiens rather than Homo sapiens. These things take time. We are slowly separating "person" from "human". In a hundred years there will be many species of "person".

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