Thursday, April 26, 2012

There But For the Grace of Four Percent (Prompt: Animal)

“Scientists have sequenced the genome 
of the chimpanzee and found 
that humans are 96 percent similar 
to the great ape species.” – 
Stefan Lovgren
for National Geographic News
August 31, 2005

I squint
as I look
in the mirror.

I see the wrinkles,
the smile,
the imposing eyebrow ridge
over soulful, searching eyes,

and think,
there but for the
grace of four percent
is the great ape.

While this majestic beast
possesses inherent dignity,
the most successful ones
are those who have been
trained to amuse
by riding bikes,
smoking cigars,
and wearing tuxedoes.

Complex and unpredictable,
they can submit
to each other
for intensely personal grooming,
but can also mobilize
for the violent
overthrow of
a designated enemy.

Victims of circumstance,
they move to where
the food is
and they learn
the unwritten rules
of their hierarchical society.

They hunt,
they share,
they nurture,
they rape,
they invent,
they ruminate,
they try,
they fail.

I’m starting think that
the four percent difference
consists mostly of
cosmetic appearance,
differential acrobatic skills,
and self-serving statements
of perceived
moral superiority.


  1. Love this. Just saw "Chimpanzee" for Earth Day with my daughter's class. Remarkable, the similarities. God's one amazing dude.

  2. Thanks! Yes, I saw it also last week. My daughter knows how much I love apes, so it was a belated Easter gift!

  3. LOL The resemblance is remarkable! Enjoyed this one Mosk! Haven't seen "Chimpanzee", but am an admirer of Richard Lederer. :- ))

  4. Thanks! That's a picture from my desk at work. So glad you caught the reference.

    1. The folks you work with are lucky to have such a fun guy around to lighten their spirits.

  5. Genius! Thanks for the laugh - I needed it.