It has long since been known that gorillas and homo sapiens are primates but a recent genome study suggests that humans and gorillas may be even closer than once thought. It is now thought that the human-gorilla chimp lineage split off about 10 million years ago and that humans and gorillas share about 98% of the same DNA. Although the difference between the gorilla and human genome is very significant.
For example, researchers recently found that an activity of a keratin gene found in gorillas may explain why they have robust nails and knuckle pads and why they can comfortably walk on their fists. Humans, on the contrary can only walk on hind legs. The research has also found that humans and gorillas share certain genetic vulnerability such as to dementia and heart disease while other apes do not.
Some other differences and similarities:
- There are two known species of gorillas – the western and eastern. Humans are considered to be one species but in one of three different types of race: Caucasoid (or Caucasian), Negroid (or black) and Mongoloid (or Asian).
- The living environment for gorillas is exclusive to tropical or subtropical forests. That of humans is almost unlimited depending on individual preference.
- On average, both share a height ranging from 1.5 and 1.8 meters tall.
- Gorillas are mostly herbivores and depend mainly on a diet of fruit and vegetation. The human diet on the contrary, consists of just about anything considered food depending on individual preference.
- Gorillas usually stick to a group of about 25-30 and build their nests in trees. Humans on the contrary have figured out how to wander about and interact with other new humans and live in various places, usually in colonies with other humans.
- Gorillas still live an average of about 50 years while humans are rapidly advancing to the 100s thanks to perceived shifts in the paradigms and also our technological and medicinal developments. Although there is some uncertainty as to whether humans will survive the upcoming climate changes that are due on Earth.
- The population size in humans is much larger
- Both have demonstrated the ability to use sign language (just think Coco) as a means of communication.
- Unlike Gorillas, humans have an innate curiosity and constantly attempt to manipulate and control their environment.
- Gorillas are considered endangered due to shrinkage of their habitat on part of the humans.
- Gorillas and humans have incredibly similar faces but the former has a very short nasal passage and big nostrils while the latter has a longer passage and much smaller nostrils.
As before with chimpanzees, the differences between humans and gorillas demonstrates just how marvelous a difference that even the slightest genetic differences can make. Like all other apes, gorillas give us clues as to what us humans may have been like and how we may have lived before we evolved into what we are now. 10 million years is actually a very rapid change evolutionarily speaking. Of course, studying apes or gorillas has so far given us very little insight as to how exactly we obtained the consciousness levels, languages and other abilities that we now have but it is not without significant clues.