Gorilla born with a lack of pigmentation shows just how closely related they are to humans
Due to the fact humans are so incredibly intelligent, it is often easy to forget that we are indeed animals - specifically falling into the category of hominoids (Superfamily Hominoidea), which can be further subcategorized into 'great apes'.
And nothing hits this point home harder than a trip to your local zoo. When you stand and watch other great apes like chimpanzees or gorillas, you quickly realize just how closely related we are. In fact, there is just a 1.6% difference in our DNA to gorillas.
Some of you may remember Koko, a gorilla who could communicate with humans using sign language. This was her final message to humanity:
However, that 1.6% does make a huge difference; as nobody is ever going to confuse a gorilla for a human. But thanks to an adorable gorilla at Zoo Atlanta, our relationship with these amazing creatures has never been clearer.
Earlier this year, a gorilla by the name of Anaka celebrated her 6th birthday at the zoo, and to commemorate the wonderful occasion, employees threw her a party and snapped plenty of pictures in the process.
After posting the photos to their official Facebook page, comments flooded in wishing Anaka a happy birthday, with many users also amazed by an amazing detail on Anaka's hand.
The six-year-old ape was born with a unique patch of pigment on her hand, with the close-up picture looking remarkably human-like.
Just like humans, gorillas have opposable thumbs and individualized fingerprints and toeprints - which, again, just like humans, are sometimes used for identification purposes.
Another thing that blew my mind was Anaka's fingernails. Unlike most animals, primates have fingernails and toenails rather than claws, which they use for opening and scraping things, cleaning, and scratching.
Anaka's profile on their official website reads:
"A grandchild of the legendary late Willie B., Anaka was the 22nd gorilla born in The Ford African Rain Forest. She has a unique pink and white pigmentation in her fingers and a very unique personality, often barking at her mom and others to get a prime spot for food and juice. She is often seen riding piggyback on her brother and sisters."
Per National Geographic, Chris Tyler-Smith, a geneticist at Wellcome Trust said: "We're perhaps 98% identical in our [genetic] sequences to gorillas. So that means most of our genes are very similar, or even identical to, the gorilla version of the same gene."
Despite common misconceptions, humans did not evolve from chimpanzees - we actually share a common ancestor species known as the 'missing link'. Per Scientific America, it has been estimated that the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees (with whom we share 99% of our genes) lived five-to-ten million years ago.