Posted in 02/10/2008


Homo troglodytes: from the origins till nowadays


In the 18th century, taxonomist Carolus Linnaeus, who created the binomial naming system and the scientific classification, was the one who put together in groups the living beings considering their similarities and refined the species naming system used till nowadays. For this reason, the Swedish botanist, zoologist and physician is considered to be "father of modern taxonomy". His most known academic work maybe is "Systema Naturae", which is considered the key point of the modern binomial naming system.


The controversy raised in 2003 by scientists about the possibility of including the chimpanzees in the Homo genus, not in Pan, is, in fact, not new, because Linnaeus was the first one to admit that the two species belonged to the same genus. He was the one who classified the human beings as Homo sapiens, referring to wisdom; about the chimpanzees, he considered that they were a second human species, classifying them as Homo troglodytes, the same as "the cave man".


No matter these facts, what we see is that since the origins the similarities of chimpanzees and human beings were remarkable. And it\’s worth to point out that these similarities were based on physical characteristics and attributes, as long as genetics had not aroused yet. But today we know that, apart from physical similarities, our DNA is more than 99% identical to chimpanzees\’ – more precisely, 99,4%.


All the biological classification used today has the Linnaeus system as the base, which means that the living beings are organized according their morphological characteristics. However, there is a new tendency of classifying the species according to genetic similarities only. The conclusion is that the scientific classification is an area that is in constant mutation, which can be small or very big.


No matter the classification, what catches the eye is the following: by morphology or by genetics, human beings and chimpanzees are always too close. Linnaeus classified this way and genetics has proved it.


Then, if they were considered Homo centuries ago, why today, with stronger proof of similarities, they are recognized like thatω If Linnaeus was still alive, he would not only maintain the chimpanzees in the same genus of ours, but also would change the concept of "cave man" to another denomination, more coherent to what is known today about chimpanzees. But this is a subject of another discussion…


Msc. Luiz Fernando Leal Padulla


Sorocaba Sanctuary / GAP Brazil