How do humans differ from chimpanzees?

Genetics - Humans have a 6% difference in DNA with Chimps. The usual number of 1% is based on the shear number of similar genes. The figure of 6% is derived from a new method that takes gene duplication and protein function into account. This difference in genetic makeup accounts for the major phenotypical differences between us, as well as differences in cognitive abilities (see below).

Anatomy - Starting from the top, the skulls of Chimps have a smaller brain pan and much larger jaws and canine teeth. Their rib cage is bell shaped to accommodate their high fiber diet; they eat lots of plants, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Their arms and hands are much longer, and their hands do not bend backwards at the wrist like ours do because that would inhibit the strength needed for swinging through the forest. Plus, this would lessen their ability to walk on their knuckles. Their necks, spines, and pelvises provide them with their characteristic bent at the waist, head forward posture, which compliments their partial arboreal lifestyle. Their legs are much shorter in comparison with their arms. And lastly, their feet are much different than ours, very hand-like. These are of course used for climbing trees and grasping branches.

A few other differences are that they have less grey matter in their spinal cords, which makes them stronger because they can access larger groups of muscles all at once. The muscles in their arms are anchored different than ours, which adds to their strength. They have larger ears to aid them in hearing chimp calls and predator sounds within their environment. Their nose is flatter because this is best suited for hot environments. And, finally, their hair is much darker and courser than ours.

Cognition - Although extremely intelligent in their own right, their brain is much smaller than a human brain. This means they are not quite as good at problem solving or abstract thinking. However, their short term memory is FAR superior to ours. For example, one series of Japanese experiments placed Chimps in a cage with a computer monitor. Numbers 1-9 would appear jumbled and out of order on the screen for a split second before they disappeared behind white blocks. Chimps were then supposed to tap the blocks in the correct numerical order. They were able to perform this task much, much better than even college students.

Lifestyle - Chimps live a dual terrestrial-arboreal lifestyle. They spend much of the day on the ground interacting with each other and looking for food. At night, they climb the trees and sleep in nests made from supple branches woven together. They also do not have a centralized settlement in which they stay. They travel all over their territory looking for food. Humans obviously live in settled societies.

Social structure - They live in a patriarchal society. The community is led by an alpha male who mates with numerous females within the group. All males are genetically related, while the females are not. This is because males stay within their birth group, while females usually leave for other communities. This is believed to be a natural guard against incest.

Culture - Chimps have a system of tool use and self-medication. This is very impressive in itself; however, our larger brain and capacity for language means our culture is far more advanced than their own. They obviously do not have literature, natural art--Chimps love to paint, but only at human prompting--architecture, and music.

For a good overview of the subject, see The Chimpanzees of Gombe (1986) by Jane Goodall, or see Chimpanzees of the Lakeshore (2012) by Toshisada Nishida.