It may not be accurate to call our species “the third chimpanzee”, but there can be no separation between apes and humans. We are apes. This realization has only come recently. There has been a long tradition of scholars who have tried to find something, anything, to draw an unbreakable line between us and our nearest relatives. As Henry Smith Williams wrote in a 1900 biography of Ernst Haeckel published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, however, perhaps we have engaged in such efforts because apes are so uncomfortably similar to us;
I confess I have always found it hard to understand just why this peculiar aversion should always be held against the unoffending ape tribe. Why it would not be quite as satisfactory to find one’s ancestor in an ape, as in the alternative lines of, for example, the cow, or the hippopotamus, or the whale, or the dog, or the rat, has always been a mystery. Yet the fact of this prejudice holds. Probably we dislike the ape because of the very patency of his human affinities. The poor relation is objectionable not so much because he is poor as because he is a relation. So perhaps it is not the ape- ness, so to speak, of the ape that is objectionable, but rather the humanness.