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Chimps mature with human ancestor

12:10pm, July 27, 2004

Wild chimpanzees have taken a bite out of scientific assumptions about the growth rate of one of our most prominent Stone Age relatives.

New measurements of dental-growth rates of wild chimpanzees provide a more accurate benchmark for estimating comparably slow growth in Homo erectus teeth, say Adrienne Zihlman of the University of California, Santa Cruz and her colleagues.

"Our data suggest that wild chimpanzees and Homo erectus didn't differ from each other as much as previously thought," Zihlman says.

The relatively quick tooth growth in captive chimps has typically been contrasted with the slower tooth development in human ancestors. However, dental growth occurs much more slowly in wild chimps than in their captive comrades, the researchers report in the July 20 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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