Microbiomes in Baboons: Evolution

The most common misconception ever is that humans evolved from apes. Even though they didn’t, that doesn’t mean baboon and human microbiomes are similar, does it?

For almost 10 years microbes, or bacteria, has been handed down from the common ancestor of African apes to humans. A scientist named Andrew Moeller discovered after an experiment that “we’ve inherited some of our microbes from our ancestors as well,” according to PNAS.org.

How did humans become the complex creatures they are from a single cell? Evolution.
An infographic created by Penn student Zoe Hurley demonstrates the importance and process of evolution in baboons and humans.

Baboons and humans do have a common anscestor, but scientists discovered that they split off into different directions about 6-8 million years ago. They most likely have some bits of the same microbes, so studying those microbes that they contain will help us discover new traits that we didn’t know were similar to baboons.

By comparing this to a human’s microbes, we can view how evolution changed baboons’ microbes, and how it changed ours.

Microbiomes in humans and in primates have another similarity; the ability to pass on social behavior to offspring when it comes to primates. For baboons, that includes grooming, and for humans, it means living with each other, as shown in recent research by Dr. Elizabeth Archie.

When microbes are passed on to each other, it is typically a positive thing. This is because when one organism passes its microbes to another organism, the newborn will be possess microbiomes gained over the parents’ life as well as have the opportunity to gain some of their own. This is part of the lengthy process known to humans as evolution, and biodiversity could not survive without it.

A baby baboon in its early life stages that is ready to take on the world and all of the microbiomes it has to offer.

Although microbiomes are “bacteria,” it’s the best kind that you could have. It impacts the health and behavior of an organism, and more importantly, it controls what animals evolve and how they do it.

Next time you hear someone say that all bacteria is bad,  tell them that they wouldn’t be human without it!


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