Approximately what percentage of the human genome is identical to that of a chimpanzee?

1 Answer
Nov 26, 2016

The genomes of humans and chimpanzees are 98.8% identical.


The genomes of humans and chimpanzees are 98.8% identical.

Despite this high percentage, there have been changes between the two lineages. Five million deletion/insertion events, thirty-five million single-nucleotide changes, and chromosomal rearrangements have occurred between the two species (TC Sequencing et al., 2005). Chromosome 2 in humans is a fusion of Chromosome 2a and 2b, which remain separate in the chimpanzee lineage (TC Sequencing et al., 2005). Humans have lost the ability to produce a gene that may have implications for preventing Alzheimer's whereas chimpanzees have lost three genes known to be involved in inflammation (TC Sequencing et al., 2005).

If you're wondering how this is possible (why don't we act and look more like chimpanzees?), you may want to refresh your understanding of genetics. While our genes may be similar, how these genes are expressed can differ greatly. For example, roughly 29% of chimpanzee and human genes code for the same amino acids (TC Sequencing et al., 2005). Epigenetics also plays a role.

To learn more about primate genetics, see [this Smithsonian Institution link](

To read more about this in great detail, see the original academic paper published on the differences between the chimpanzee and human genome.