How similar is chimpanzee mitochondrial DNA to human?

Does it show the same single ancestor?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I have removed the first part of your question "I know human mitochondrial DNA is "identical" for all humans…" at it is quite wrong. See, for example, nature.com/scitable/topicpage/…. I suggest that in future you look for sources to support any assertions you make in questions and quote them. Also, the first part of your question can be answered by research. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Feb 6, 2023 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ @David: I don't think you should remove a statement from a question simply because it's false; such statements help answerers understand and address any misconceptions that may be underlying the question. (Ideally an answer should tackle the statement head-on.) $\endgroup$
    – ruakh
    Feb 7, 2023 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ @ruakh In this case I disagree, as it is only background to the main question, which has already got an answer. One function of editing is explicitly stated as being to improve questions. That is what I have done. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Feb 7, 2023 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ @David: If that's so, then how come you commented on the answer to suggest that it address the false assumption that you've removed from the question? $\endgroup$
    – ruakh
    Feb 8, 2023 at 1:33
  • $\begingroup$ @ruakh — An analysis of the thought processes behind my historic actions is irrelevant. I am not a politician and this is not an undergraduate debating society. What is important is that I did the right thing. I may have just changed my mind, or thought a note in the answer would help the poster and anyone who had seen the original. If you wish to discuss the principle behind this I suggest you raise it on Meta. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Feb 8, 2023 at 8:59

1 Answer 1


While the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from humans and chimpanzees is not identical, it is highly similar. The nucleotide difference between the complete human and chimpanzee sequences is 8.9%, the difference between the control regions of the two sequences is 13.9%, and the difference between the remaining parts of the sequences is 8.5% (see reference 1).

Interestingly, humans have substantially lower levels of mitochondrial genome diversity compared to chimpanzees. The nuclear mutation rate on the other hand is higher in humans than in chimpanzees. This has been explained by differences in the mutations rates (see reference 2).

The high homology between chimp and human mtDNA does points to the same single ancestor. The divergence between human and chimpanzee ancestors dates to approximately 6.5-7.5 million years ago (see reference 3).


  1. Comparison between the complete mitochondrial DNA sequences of Homo and the common chimpanzee based on nonchimeric sequences
  2. Comparative nuclear and mitochondrial genome diversity in humans and chimpanzees
  3. Differences between human and chimpanzee genomes and their implications in gene expression, protein functions and biochemical properties of the two species
  • $\begingroup$ You might have emphasized the false assumption in the question, even though your answer implies this, the poster doesn't appear to have taken the point. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Feb 6, 2023 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ @David Yes, good point. I think of some addition. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Feb 6, 2023 at 21:07

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