44th human-orangutan synapomorphy

John Grehan jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG
Thu Jan 13 23:23:01 CST 2005

Well, thanks to Ken helping me to look more closely at the situation we seem to have another confirmed orangutan-human synapomorphy. I decided to check with a specialist on primate cognitive behavior regarding the mechanical inclinations of orangutans (and their assoicated abiity to escape by unlocking cages) and my impression from the literature was corroborated. This person told me that "orangutans are mechanical geniuses.  This has long been recognized, and I don't know of anything that contradicts this impression of the 'bent' of their intellect." So it seems safe to include mechanical ability as the 44th  synapmorphy with humans even though there is no numerical quantification. It would seem that humans and orangutans are noteable for mechanical ability and after that other primates just don't show up on the radar screen. Perhaps the key to the 'success' of human evolution lies with having a common ancestor with the orangutan - a common ancestor that thought far more like us than chimps.
John Grehan

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