The most extensive genetic analysis ever conducted reaffirms that humans' closest cousins on the evolutionary family tree are chimpanzees, whose genes are about 98.4% similar to those of people, researchers report.
"Who is our closest living relative? That turns out to be the chimp. In our family tree, they're the ones right next to us," said Michael M. Miyamoto, an assistant zoology professor at the University of Florida.
Chimps and humans are about 98.4% similar in their DNA, the material that makes up genes, while humans and gorillas are 98.3% similar. Orangutans and humans are 96.5% similar, Miyamoto said.
Although researchers earlier had concluded that chimps were people's closest relatives in the animal kingdom, the new study reported in the journal Science was more extensive.