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The three species (Man, the chimpanzee and the gorilla) share almost 99 percent of their DNA, and on that basis, surely, they should not look nearly as different as they do.

Am I right in thinking that the meaning of they should not look nearly as different as they do is "if they share almost 99 percent of their DNA, they should resemble each other more closely"?

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    Yes, that's what it means.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 11:52

2 Answers 2

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In this sentence 'different' clearly states that 3 species are a lot different.

'nearly as different'

means that the 3 species should not be close to even these many differences and rather have fewer differences (or other way round 'should have more similarities' which, they don't possess actually).

So you are assuming absolutely right!

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Yes, your assumption is correct. In they should not look nearly as different as they do, the nearly emphasises the difference, implying that the difference should be way smaller.

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