Chimpanzees are typically 1 to 1.7 m tall and weigh 40 to 50 kg. They have light-colored, black, or blotchy skin, and large protruding ears. In 1961, the chimp "Ham" orbited the earth in a rocket, preceding human astronauts. Chimpanzees eat plants, ants, termites, and occasionally meat. They live and travel in small groups, communicating and expressing their moods with a variety of hoots, grunts, roars, and screams. They apparently delight in their own sounds. Chimpanzees have also demonstrated the ability to use and make tools, share and cooperate for the common good, express complex emotions and communicate using sign language. Although the chimp is the most closely related species to human many interesting phenotypic and medical differences exist between us. -- Excerpts from the Canadian Museum of Nature
The chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) lives in the rain forest and savannah of equatorial Africa. The demand for live chimpanzees for zoos and research and a ban on breeding those chimps held captive in those facilities has led to a significant decline in the captive chimpanzee population. Partly because of their intelligence, and partly because of their close evolutionary relationship to humans, these animals have been used extensively for scientific research. Concurrently, their wild habitat is ever diminishing, causing a decline in the wild chimpanzee population. They currently are listed as an endangered species.
The chimpanzee genome was sequenced to 4X coverage initially, in collaboration with the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard. A male chimpanzee known as "Clint", from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center was chosen as the reference chimpanzee genome. Our center subsequently produced additional (2X) whole genome coverage utilizing a combination of whole genome plasmid reads as well as fosmid and BAC end sequences. The total 6X genome sequence coverage has been assembled and is now being evaluated for quality prior to release to the public through established genome web browsers. A comprehensive BAC based physical map has been produced. Ongoing sequence improvement efforts at the McDonnell Genome Institute will act to enhance the quality of the draft assembly. We are in the process of BAC based finishing of the chimp equivalents of human chromosomes 7 and Y as well as biologically interesting regions defined in the ENCODE project.