What really separates us from the apes?


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The Independent Online

Is it our immortal souls? Or our sense of irony? Or perhaps our (comparatively) hair-free torsos?

No, no and not if you've seen my Uncle Owen with his shirt off. According to the latest research, what really separates us homo sapiens from those other primates is our ability to throw. Suddenly cricket takes on a whole new nobility:

"Chimps can throw only about 20 mph, a speed your Little Leaguer would laugh at, and their accuracy is pathetic," notes Lenny Bernstein in the Washington Post.

The average human's ability to reach back and add power to their throw is a plausible explanation for how we developed the superior hunting skills which eventually led to our mastery of the planet (much to the cost of many other species).

But you don't have to be a Planet of The Apes super-fan to know that this mastery over the other apes is precarious. Here are a few things the other apes can do better:

1. Fighting

Chimpanzees are, pound for pound, around four times stronger than humans

2. Vertical running

They can run straight up a tree and often do.

3. Speed-drinking competitions

Our more complex vocal chords prevent us from breathing and drinking at the same time. Chimpanzee's don't have such issues.

4. Eating a balanced diet

Modern humans eat more meat than chimpanzees and most struggle to make their 5-a-day of fruit and veg. Monkey's only occasionally resort to hunting and killing other animals and graze on fruit constantly

5. Sex

Bonobo monkeys engage in recreational sex and often defuse angry situations through sexual pleasure. Chimpanzees do not form long-term partnerships, so have no concept of sexual jealousy.