The Difference that Opposable Toes Can Make

Since becoming involved in Roots and Shoots, I’ve become more knowledgeable of and engaged by the many parallels between chimps and humans. Did you know that it was Jane Goodall who discovered that chimps are omnivores like us?! Before she observed chimps eating a bush pig, people thought that chimps were vegetarians. Like humans, chimps are highly social animals who have strong bonds to their community groups as well as family members. Young chimps have a particularly strong relationship with their mother and even sleep in their mother’s nest for the first five years of their lives! They also have both opposable thumbs (like us) and opposable big toes – a difference that makes them well suited to clinging to branches as they swing through the trees!

Even though there are many aspects of our behaviours that make us similar to one another, Roots and Shoots has also led me to appreciate that we differ greatly. Some of the differences may be considered small, like their appetite for termites vs. humans’ aversion to bugs in our diet (at least in many cultures). However, there are also larger differences in our behaviours that mean chimps should remain in forests and not be forced to live in our society as pets or as entertainment for humans. Their strong social bonds to family members mean that they are out of place in our society and lacking the affection and support they require from their fellow chimps.

Although many comparisons can be made between humans and chimps, there are also many differences, making it important for this endangered species to be left in their forest homes. After all, adaptation has allowed us each to be best suited to our respective lives. Share your thoughts about some of the similarities and differences between us.

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