Why do apes still exist?

Why do apes still exist?

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If we are evolved from apes, why don't all ape evolve and become human.


Why the today's ape stop evolving to become a human?

I am not going to bother putting any references for this answer as all the information is a google search away.

Humans did not evolve from apes. Extant humans and apes developed from a common ancestor. One lineage from this common ancestor evolved and became apes. Another lineage went on to become humans.

Some study material here and here.

Unless one can describe a "common ancestor", this phylogenetic knee jerk response begs the question. Humans evolved from animals not distinguishable taxonomically from apes. Phylogeneticists invoke the common ancestor explanation because their analysis is actually a form of cluster analysis, where groups of traits split dichotomously into smaller groups of traits. This is not a model of evolution.

The Sumatra orangutan's fur is more reddish than that of the Borneo orangutan, the males' cheek pads are less pronounced and often covered in white hair. Sumatra orangutans also spend less time on the ground than their Bornean cousins. Experts suspect the reason to stay aloft may be the Sumatra tiger, which also preys on orangutans.

Great apes - primates like us

Are Negros Closer to Apes Than to Humans?

The negro skull, in addition to having a smaller brain volume and thicker cranial bones than that of the White, is prognathous i.e., the lower face projects forward in the manner of an animal's muzzle. The negro jaw is substantially longer, relative to its width, than the White jaw. A feature of the negro lower jaw is its retention of a vestige of the "simian shelf," a bony region immediately behind the incisors. The simian shelf is a distinguishing characteristic of apes, and it is absent in Whites.

They emit a peculiar offensive body odor similar to apes.

Just as their black skin protected them from the intense African sun, they are inherently lazy in order to prevent over exertion in that intense sun.

The arms and legs of the negro are relatively longer than the European. The humerus is shorter and the forearm longer thereby approximating the ape form.

The eye often has a yellowish scierotic coat over it like that of a gorilla.

The negro has a shorter trunk the cross-section of the chest is more circular than Whites. Similar to an ape.

The pelvis is narrower and longer as it is in an ape.

The negro has a larger and shorter neck akin to that of apes.

The ears are roundish, rather small, standing somewhat high and detached thus approaching the ape form.

The jaw is larger and stronger and protrudes outward which, along with lower retreating forehead, gives a facial angle of 68 to 70 degrees, like an ape, as opposed to a facial angle of 80 to 82 degrees for Europeans.

The three curvatures of the spine are less pronounced in the negro than in the white and thus more characteristic of an ape.

The two bones proper of the nose are occasionally united, as in apes.

Taxonomists and geneticists believe that negros should be classified as different species. In fact, Darwin declared in The Descent of Man that the negros are so distinct that similar differences found in any other animal would warrant their classification as a different species.

Coon, Carleton S. The Origin of Races, 1962, Alfred A. Knopf
Howells, William. Mankind So Far, Doubleday, Garden City, NY
Weisman, Charles A. The Origins of Race and Civilization, 1990

The Institute for Creation Research

This question often crops up among evolution disbelievers. And while it underscores the truth that most people truly don't believe man came from rats, fish, and single-celled organisms up through the primates, it ignores the fact that evolutionists have a ready answer to it.

First, evolutionists strongly deny the idea that men came from the apes. They insist that both man and the apes came from a hypothetical ape-like ancestor, the evidence for which has not yet been discovered.

Secondly, evolution does not propose that all members of a type evolved into another type, but that only a small group of individuals, genetically isolated from the others, evolved, leaving the others to remain the same.

A perceptive person will recognize that both of these points are nothing more than story telling. The hypothetical ape-like ancestor does not exist, and there is no evidence that it ever did. The "peripheral isolates" claim may sound reasonable, and there are recent examples of isolated groups acquiring new traits through adaptation, but none of any group acquired new suites of functioning genes through random mutation, such as production of either an ape or a man from an ape-like ancestor would require.

Instead of asking why we still have apes, we should be asking why don't we have the hypothetical ape-like ancestor, the real missing link? Or, why don't we have the required intermediate forms? How can such change happen? The claim that transitional individuals were few in number, and thus unlikely to be fossilized and discovered, rings hollow. The fact is, we don't have them! The evolution claims are only stories. In their story, man and apes diverged from the imaginary ancestor some seven million years ago. Surely some would be fossilized.

We should also ask, how could such a transition happen? The only way we know to acquire new genes is to alter existing genes through random mutation. The best alteration science has observed has produced only novel recombinations -- most deteriorate the genetic information and thus harm the offspring. Many mutations are fatal. Evolution requires trillions of innovative mutations to produce man from lower forms, and at least millions to produce man or apes from an ape-like ancestor. None have been observed.

Evolution tales are pseudo-scientific stories about an imaginary history. Evolution is best understood as an anti-God origins myth, attempting to explain man's existence without a Creator. We can do better.

*Dr. John D. Morris is the President of the Institute for Creation Research.

If humans evolve from apes, why didn't all apes evolve at the same rate?

First, why should they evolve at the same rate? Evolution moves by fits and starts. A species that is well attuned to an unchanging environment can itself remain unchanged for a long time. Mutations might happen at a more-or-less constant rate, but most mutations do not give an advantage. Most are fatal. Most of those that are not fatal are disadvantageous. A changing environment is a principal envolutionary driver. Humanity's ancestors formed when their jungle home became a savannah.

Secondly, how do you know they aren't evolving at the same rate? They might have just taken a different path than did humans.

They did. Modern apes are all equally evolved.
One species has evolved to live on grassland, invented civilisation but still thinks digital watches are a neat idea (ob. HitchHiker quote)
Other species have evolved to live in forests and eat leaves.

You have to be a little careful about terms. Humans / chimps / gorillas are all (african) apes. We all decended from earlier species that were apes - it doesn't mean we descended from other current ape species.

Alright then. So the answer to the creationist question of "why do apes still exist" would be "apes evolved as well, but they evolved into something different"? Does that sound about right?

Alright then. So the answer to the creationist question of "why do apes still exist" would be "apes evolved as well, but they evolved into something different"? Does that sound about right?

The creationist strawman is 'If humans evolved from monkeys, why do monkeys still exists?'.

- As said earlier, humans did not evolve from other modern day apes or any currently living species.
- The reason both modern day humans and modern day monkeys exists, is because there were initial geographical separations, whereby the different species diverged and adapted to the different environments.
- Modern day humans and monkeys have evolved over the exact same period of time.

This is such an incredibly horrendous strawman.

The local environment is a key driver of evolutionary change. Suppose the environment in one locale changes. Continents separate, mountain chains form, peninsulas become islands, patches of jungle dry up. All of these tend to separate populations. Evolutionary pressures tend to be local, not global. Evolutionary changes in one isolated segment of a population do not magically teleport across mountain chains or oceans.

For examples of this, google "ring species".

"More" evolved. always gives me a chuckle when I hear that. :)

EDIT: Going back, I guess that wasn't said, but it was implied. :O

Keep in mind a chimpanzee is far more similar genetically to a human than it is to a gorilla.

The usual response I have heard to the IDist/Creationist claim that "If humans evolved from apes, why are there still monkeys?" is.

If many present day Americans are of European descent, why are there still Europeans?

If they can wrap their minds around that concept they can begin to understand the answer to their question. I am a bit more cynical about whether they will ever understand Evolution. but at least it is a step.

I suppose a follow up question could be:
If everyone used to be a creationist, why are there still creationists?

As has already been pretty well explained, modern humans and modern apes all had a common ancestor from which the two populations diverged, we didn't linearly evolve directly from modern apes.

This is such an incredibly horrendous strawman.

The local environment is a key driver of evolutionary change. Suppose the environment in one locale changes. Continents separate, mountain chains form, peninsulas become islands, patches of jungle dry up. All of these tend to separate populations. Evolutionary pressures tend to be local, not global. Evolutionary changes in one isolated segment of a population do not magically teleport across mountain chains or oceans.

For examples of this, google "ring species".

This is also explains the so-called "gaps" found in the fossil record another favorite claim of the creationist.

"Gaps" are exactly what we should expect!

If one species splits up into say 2 separate groups, and if each group eventually becomes exposed to 2 different environments (say they migrate across a mountain range), each group will evolve independently due to local geographical factors, eventually to the point where they are actually two different species.

Now, say one species "makes it back" over a mountain range throughout the course of many thousands of years and reunites with the other species. There you have it, one species evolving into another, and no "transition fossils" to be found.

Because those people live in much harsher environments with less available food and have had to spend the majority of their resources just to stay alive. It's only in a stable society that allows free time for creativity along with the resources to make them happen that you see the most significant advances.

Even with our modern technology, we still can't supply a lot of these wilderness areas with 24/7 power and adequate sewage systems, food, etc.

Because those people live in much harsher environments with less available food and have had to spend the majority of their resources just to stay alive. It's only in a stable society that allows free time for creativity along with the resources to make them happen that you see the most significant advances.

Even with our modern technology, we still can't supply a lot of these wilderness areas with 24/7 power and adequate sewage systems, food, etc.

Actually, it is the reverse. Why else is it people who live in temperate climates are the ones who live in mud huts? The technological advances came from humans in environments harsh enough to require technology, but with technology we gained the free time for advances beyond those necessary for bare survival.

Those who can live using only simple tools are still using just simple tools. To be extremely simplistic.

The main flaw with the type of 'why do monkeys/apes etc. still exist' thought line is that it is based upon the premise that when evolution occurs the more 'primitive' species is mystically all converted to a more 'superior' species. This is not at all how evolution works.

Sometimes a more evolved species will take the place of a 'lesser' evolved species but it doesn't happen immediately and it doesn't mean that evolution of the previous species stops at all. This becomes blatantly obvious when we see a 'more' evolved species living together with their 'ancestor' species. at the same time.
As well you have to watch the way you word things as others have pointed out the Apes which we know today did not evolve into Humans. Evolution just shows that we have a common ancestor.

Bacteria have very quick lived generations and have been around a very long time. It could be argued that modern bacteria are the most evolved organisms on Earth if one were forced to speak in those terms. It's a very bad idea to use the terms "more evolved" or "primitive" when comparing species against eachother. We are all the very latest model: bacteria,whales,crocodiles,sharks,chimps,humans and all other living things that exist now are the most (for lack of better word) "advanced" version.

Nature shows really do mislead people when they make statements like "Crocodiles and sharks are living fossils" The narrator is taking too much artistic license. Species are NOT frozen in time despite what any nature show might infer by saying "living fossil." They really ought to stop saying that because it is giving people the wrong idea. After hearing enough narators make that claim on those programs I can't blame people for wrongly thinking that other Ape species are "living fossils" of humans.

Actually, it is the reverse. Why else is it people who live in temperate climates are the ones who live in mud huts? The technological advances came from humans in environments harsh enough to require technology, but with technology we gained the free time for advances beyond those necessary for bare survival.

Those who can live using only simple tools are still using just simple tools. To be extremely simplistic.

Not true. Greece has little arable land and is covered with mountains. Most of Europe actually receives snow in the winter. Yet it was Europe--mostly Greece, Rome, and Britain--that saw the greatest advances in science, politics, linguistics, and almost every subject you'd care to name, not the tropical African countries. There's nothing remarkable about any of these countries in terms of resources.

Look at Africa now and you'll see that the poorest countries are sub-Saharan, and lie on land that has abundant precipitation, lush rainforests, plenty of resources, and a great climate year-round. It's the countries in the Saharan desert that are relatively well-off.

It has been remarked that the san bushmen (who speak with that click) in fact only have to work a few hours a day to survive, despite being pushed into more marginal areas. And this is generally true of hunter-gatherer lifestyles. But with the switch to agriculture, hard labour was invented.

Are twentieth century hunter-gatherers really worse off than farmers? Scattered throughout the world, several dozen groups of socalled primitive people, like the Kalahari Bushmen, continue to support themselves that way. It turns out that these people have plenty of leisure time, sleep a good deal, and work less hard than their farming neighbors. For instance, the average time devoted each
week to obtaining food is only twelve to nineteen hours for one group of Bushmen,
fourteen hours or less for the Hadza nomads of Tanzania. One Bushman, when asked why he hadn't emulated neighboring tribes by adopting agriculture, replied, "Why should we, when there are so many mongongo nuts in the world?"

What settled food production did allow was the rise of a class system based on serfs/slaves/peasants. So some had the leisure to indulge in higher intellectual pursuits.

Persian, greek and roman cultures were rather slave dependent - it was harsher for some.

Climate does not explain intellectual advance. But hierarchies of labour that allow specialisation do. And then what really counts is to be a trading nation. Outward rather than inward, exploratory rather than equilibrium, a cross roads for cultures rather than culturally xenophobic.

Of course, you could make a case that the likely story on homo sapiens was that we were pushed along by the ice ages. There were a number of rival hominid strands (including neanderthals) and with such a sequence of climatic fluctuation, brains was eventually favoured over brawn. So climate could be a causal factor there.

Speculative but plausible.

"If humans evolve from apes, why didn't all apes evolve at the same rate?"

Why are all living organisms not identical and indistinguishable? Answer this, and you answer your question.

I would like to add a little spice to this topic of conversation. A recent article from March 1, 2010 on Great Ape Trust , which is an excellent place to explore, gives indepth information that might be helpful. Here's a snippet from the article If bonobo Kanzi can point as humans do, what other similarities can rearing reveal?

Among humans, pointing is a universal language, an alternative to spoken words to convey a message. Before they speak, infants point, a gesture scientists agree is closely associated with word learning. But when an ape points, scientists break rank on the question of whether pointing is a uniquely human behavior. Some of the world’s leading voices in modern primatology have argued that although apes may gesture in a way that resembles human pointing, the genetic and cognitive differences between apes and humans are so great that the apes’ signals have no specific intent.

Not so, say Great Ape Trust scientists, who argued in a recently published scientific paper, “Why Apes Point: Pointing Gestures in Spontaneous Conversation of Language-Competent Pan/Homo Bonobos,” that not only do Kanzi, Panbanisha and Nyota point with their index fingers in conversation as a human being might, these bonobos do so with specific intent and objectives in mind.

The difference between pointing by the Great Ape Trust bonobos – the only ones in the world with receptive competence for spoken English – and other captive apes that make hand gestures is explained by the culture in which they were reared, according to the paper’s authors: Janni Pedersen, an Iowa State University Ph.D. candidate conducting research for her dissertation at Great Ape Trust Pär Segerdahl, a scientist from Sweden who has published several philosophical inquires into language and William M. Fields, an ethnographer investigating language, culture and tools in non-human primates. Fields also is Great Ape Trust’s director of scientific research.

Because Kanzi, Panbanisha and Nyota were raised in a culture where pointing has a purpose – The Trust’s hallmark Pan/Homo environment, where infant bonobos are reared with both bonobo (Pan paniscus) and human (Homo sapiens) influences – their pointing is as scientifically meaningful as their understanding of spoken English, Fields said.

Great Ape Trust Director of Scientific Research William M. Fields conferring with Janni Pedersen, an Iowa State University student doing her dissertation research with bonobos. Great Ape Trust photo.

The pointing study supports and builds on previous research on the effect of rearing culture on cognitive capabilities, including the 40-year research corpus of Dr. Duane Rumbaugh, Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Fields, which is the foundation of the scientific inquiry at Great Ape Trust. Those studies included the breakthrough finding that Kanzi and other bonobos with receptive competence for spoken English acquired language as human children do – by being exposed to it since infancy. The bonobos adopted finger-pointing behavior for the same reasons, because they were reared in a culture where pointing has meaning.

“We have argued that apes and humans, while very closely related genetically, differ most dramatically in culture,” Fields said. “Pointing is a function of culture. If Kanzi can do the kinds of things that he is able to do as a function of rearing, what does that mean for humans?”

Fields said studying the effect of culture on great apes’ cognitive capabilities might help scientists learn more about human disorders that cause developmental delays. “This opens the entire question of how you push the limits of genes by cultural forces, for instance in Down’s Syndrome or other genetic variations that limit normal human expression,” he said. “What is the role of culture as a mitigating strategy for Autistic Spectrum Disorders? Is IQ a function of culture?”

Answering those questions brings scientists a step closer to determining the role of epigenesis – the influence of the environment on the expression of the genetic code – in a variety of disciplines, including medicine, education and technology.

The Great Ape Trust scientists conducted the study in rebuttal to a paper written by Michael Tomasello, a leading expert on evolution and communication. Tomasello, co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, asserted in “Why Apes Don’t Point” that though captive apes may appear to point, the genetic and cognitive differences between apes and humans are so great that there is no specific intent behind the gesture.

Pedersen et al. argued that an ape that was not reared in a culture where index finger pointing was common, including most captive apes, would not be expected to exhibit that gesture. The scientists also noted that although pointing isn’t a behavior that wild bonobos and other great apes acquire on their own, it does not mean that they are genetically or cognitively incapable of learning the behavior.

“Tomasello’s argument rests upon questionable empirical evidence,” Pedersen and her colleagues wrote, “since the apes in the referred experimental studies have not been relevantly reared. By providing evidence that language-encultured apes do point, the assumptions about the cognitive differences between humans and apes need to be called into question on both theoretical and empirical ground.”

A chapter based on the Great Ape Trust scientists’ study is included in Primatology: Theories, Methods and Research, published by Nova Science Publishers Inc. and edited by Emil Potocki and Juliusz Krasinski.

Why are there still monkeys?

Once upon a time, a Roman author named Quintus Ennius wrote: "how like us is that very ugly beast, the ape!" It was quoted by Cicero, and from him Bacon, Montaigne and various others. But always it was thought that apes (simia, literally "the similar ones"), which in that time include monkeys and what we now call apes indifferently, were distinct from humans in every meaningful way. As Cicero said after citing Ennius, the character is different.

But then along came a Swedish botanist turned generalist, Carolus Linnaeus, in the 18th century, and despite being a creationist, he put apes, monkeys and humans in the same group (Primata, literally, "the first ones"), and worse, apes and humans into a single genus, Homo. He wrote to Johann Georg Gmelin

It is not pleasing that I placed humans among the primates, but man knows himself. Let us get the words out of the way. It will be equal to me by whatever name they are treated. But I ask you and the whole world a generic difference between men and simians in accordance with the principles of Natural History. I certainly know none. If only someone would tell me one! If I called man an ape or vice versa I would bring together all the theologians against me. Perhaps I ought to have, in accordance with the law of the discipline [of Natural History].

Nevertheless the theologians objected to humans and apes being placed into the same class no matter what the reason, and in 1775, Blumenbach revised the classification so that Humans were the sole members of Homo and Chimps the sole members of Pan. No real reason was given, as this was both intuitively (read: "religiously") obvious, and the period in which Authorities got to make classifications based on what seemed best to them, stated or unstated.

Which brings me to the continuous Creationist canard (no, it's not a duck): Why are there still monkeys if humans evolved from monkeys?

There are two sides to this question: one is whether any modern view of evolution requires that there only be one instance of a "type" and once it has been evolved out of, it should go extinct. This is a silly belief that itself is based on ideas that predate even Linnaeus - that each "position" on the "scale of nature" once occupied by a lineage, must become empty when that lineage moves upward. No theory of evolution has held this view for at least 200 years, even before Darwin. If we did evolve from monkeys, then monkeys do not all have to go extinct just because another kind of monkey (i.e., us) has evolved.

The second side to the question though is this: were our ancestors monkeys at all? And the answer to this is subtle.

There are basically two ways to classify things in biology. One is by identity - if group X is the same in some important manner to Y, then X + Y form a group based on that identity. The biological term for identity of characters here is homology, a term proposed by Richard Owen in 1843. It means the same organ under all variations of form and function. All organisms that have a heart form a single group - no matter if the hearts are single chambered, double chambered, or four-chambered. But organisms that have some kind of pump that is not "the same" as the heart are not in that way homologous - if, say, the "heart" in that species develops out of the anus or something, and not in the thoracic part of the body.

The other way is to classify by similarity. Something is in the same class as another thing if it resembles the other. Similarity is not identity - the anus-heart would be classified as similar to the thoracic heart in virtue of a similar task or even activity and structure. To say that humans are not like beasts is to classify by what seems important to use as a similarity measure to us. The biological term for a trait that resembles others because of form or structure is homoplasy. Bats', birds' and insects' wings are homoplasious - similar because of what they do, not because they are the same parts used.

Something can be the same even if it is not very similar, and groups made by identity are called taxa (singular taxon), whereas groups made by similarity are types. Classifications of taxa are called, naturally, a taxonomy. A classification based on types is a typology. These are often confused, even by scientists.

So were our ancestors monkeys? Each way of classifying gives a different answer. On the identity criterion, humans fall naturally into several increasingly larger groups: Homo is in Hominini, which includes several now extinct Homo species and chimps Homininae, which includes hominids as well as gorillas Hominidae, which also includes orangutans, and Hominoidea, which includes gibbons. Hominoidea is referred to as the African Great Apes, although the gibbon and orangutan live in Asia. It a part of Catarrhini, or the Old World (African and Eurasian) monkeys.

So, if you classify by taxa, any immediate ancestor of our species was a member of Homo, Hominoidea (and hence the apes), and Catarrhini (or the Old World Monkeys). Hence our ancestor was a monkey, because we are monkeys (and apes).

But "monkey" is typically understood to mean a Primate that has a tail, and so it includes also the New World (American) monkeys: the Platyrrhini. But apes do not have tails, so "monkey" defined by similarity as a type is basically Primate minus Hominoidea. This is like saying that a cookie (or biscuit in the sensible English speaking part of the world) is whatever is left after a bite has been taken out of it. It is what taxonomists call a paraphyletic group: a group that is everything left over by some exclusion of a part that would normally be included.

Now, our ancestors were never New World monkeys. The term "monkey" therefore refers to animals that include organisms that don't share our ancestry further down the tree. It's a type, not a taxon.

Ordinary language is typical. That is, ordinary terms like "monkey" refer to things that resemble each other is ways that may not even be scientifically natural. It's best when making a scientific claim to use scientific terms, because they refer to natural things, natural classes. So a scientist would say "humans evolved from hominoids, which evolved from catarrhines, which evolved from an ancestral primate." An ordinary speaker would throw their hands up in despair and say "Just tell me, did we evolve from monkeys or not?!" They are speaking past each other. "Monkey" has no scientific meaning.

Some scientists, though, think that this is just logic and language chopping. Of course whatever it is that humans have as their distant ancestor would have been called a "monkey" in ordinary (that is, typical) terms. Geogre Simpson once said exactly that:

On this subject, by the way, there has been way too much pussyfooting. Apologists emphasize that man cannot be the descendant of any living ape—a statement that is obvious to the verge of imbecility—and go on to state or imply that man is not really descended from an ape or monkey at all, but from an earlier common ancestor. In fact, that earlier ancestor would certainly be called an ape or monkey in popular speech by anyone who saw it. Since the terms ape and monkey are defined by popular usage, man’s ancestors were apes or monkeys (or successively both). It is pusillanimous if not dishonest for an informed investigator to say otherwise (1964, p. 12).

This passage is much beloved of creationists, for it seems to be an obvious contradiction to the view that evolution does not say that our ancestors were monkeys. Simpson in fact was of the old school (note that this is written in 1964, before the form of classification I call "by taxa" was developed - it's known professionally as "phylogenetic taxonomy", or "cladistics"). But even so, read what he says carefully: No living ape is our ancestor (or even very much like our ancestor to an anatomist). So if by "ape" (or "monkey") you mean a chimp or a macaque or an orangutan, no, we are not evolved from these ugly beasts.

So when someone asks if we evolved from monkeys, tell them "Yes, if by "monkey" you mean a primate no, if you mean Primate minus Hominoid". Of course at some very early and distant time our ancestors were monkeys, but not recently.

Now, back to the "why are there still monkeys?" part of the question: on the older view of evolution that was the common idea of evolution for a century prior to Darwin (both the evolution of organisms, or languages, and of social institutions), if a lineage had evolved, it moved "up" the ladder as a whole. On the Darwinian view, only one part of a species evolves into the next (and there's no "next step" - a species evolves into whatever suits the local conditions of the population it evolves from it may be bigger brained or smaller brained, or for that matter bigger or smaller). The rest of the species remains. So we end up with an increase in the diversity of life, which is, I think, the single most important point Darwin ever made. Monkeys remain because we are monkeys, and so are chimps, orangs, and all those other primates. All of them remain because they evolved by the multiplication of taxa.

What is Evolution?

The concept of evolution by natural selection was introduced in the late 1850s almost simultaneously (but independently) by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. Darwin gets all the glory for it. But the fact that they independently arrived at the same conclusion was a good sign for the idea.

Evolution by natural selection is the way organisms and species transform over time through changes in inherited traits, either physical or behavioral. These changes confer a greater ability to survive and reproduce.

The ability to survive and reproduce is termed “fitness”. But don’t confuse it with physical fitness brought about by diet and exercise.

This is why people sometimes say that evolution is “survival of the fittest”. Natural selection takes small changes (mutations in genes) and magnifies them throughout the species. Genetic mutations can come about through random errors in replication or repair of DNA or damage from chemicals or radiation.

Mutations are usually either neutral or bad, but rarely good. Individuals with bad genetic mutations are weeded out of the population. Individuals with good genetic mutations, however, can pass on their traits to the next generation. This conserves good mutations. This is often described as “descent with modification”.

Let’s say a genetic mutation causes an individual to be better able to avoid predators. This could be a gene coding for a different color that better blends into the environment. Then it will be more likely to survive long enough to reproduce. When this individual reproduces, it will pass on this color mutation to its offspring.

If this mutation continues to give an advantage to individuals carrying it, it will spread throughout a population. The population becomes changed. The individuals without this mutation will be picked off by predators and die out.

This process, small changes leading to an altered trait in a population over several generations, is called microevolution. As more time passes, a new species can arise through the accumulation of new traits. This is macroevolution.

Many lines of evidence from multiple fields support evolution by natural selection. That is why it is now considered a solidified theory.

We didn’t actually evolve from monkeys

It’s true! Everyone talks about how Homo sapiens evolved from monkeys, but in reality, that’s not true. Not entirely, at least. It depends on what you mean by the word ‘monkeys’.

Human beings and modern-day monkeys both evolved from a common ancestor that is now extinct. Both of these species share a common ancestor from which they both evolved around 25 million years ago. This evolutionary relationship is strongly supported by DNA analysis and fossil records.

The rhesus macaque is one of the best-known species of Old World monkeys. (Photo Credit: Charles J Sharp /Wikimedia Commons)

A study showed that Homo sapiens and rhesus monkeys share nearly 93% of their DNA. Based on the differences and similarities between the two kinds of DNA, researchers have estimated that rhesus monkeys and humans diverged from their common ancestor millions of years ago.

Interestingly, the common ancestor that humans and monkeys (apes and chimps) evolved from was, colloquially speaking, a monkey!

Long story short, human beings didn’t evolve from the apes and chimps that exist today instead, humans and monkeys (i.e., the class of apes, chimpanzees and other species of monkeys) are like blood relatives who have the same parents.

Does that make sense? Here’s an analogy to help you understand this better.

It’s important to realize that evolution is not a linear process where one species evolves from the previous, effectively “replacing” the previous. Instead, it is a much more complicated process where species will branch off an existing line of ancestors. Seperate branches evolve along different trajectories and can include major changes, minor changes, no change, or extinction. The survival of an evolutionary line is dependent upon the ability of its members to live and reproduce in their environment.

The figure below illustrates the primate “family tree”:

One of the reasons early human-like ancestors were able to survive was because they were better adapted to the emerging grassland environments than the ancestors of modern apes, which were predominantly tree dwellers. Therefore, the grassland-adapted species would not conflict with the tree-dwellers and they could coexist.

Basically, the question “if humans evolved from apes, why do apes still exist?” is analogous to “if North Americans came from Europe, why are there still Europeans?”. Seems obvious, right?


"Ape", from Old English apa, is a word of uncertain origin. [b] The term has a history of rather imprecise usage—and of comedic or punning usage in the vernacular. Its earliest meaning was generally of any non-human anthropoid primate, [c] as is still the case for its cognates in other Germanic languages. [5] Later, after the term "monkey" had been introduced into English, "ape" was specialized to refer to a tailless (therefore exceptionally human-like) primate. [6] Thus, the term "ape" obtained two different meanings, as shown in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica entry: it could be used as a synonym for "monkey" and it could denote the tailless humanlike primate in particular. [7]

Some, or recently all, hominoids are also called "apes", but the term is used broadly and has several different senses within both popular and scientific settings. "Ape" has been used as a synonym for "monkey" or for naming any primate with a human-like appearance, particularly those without a tail. [7] Biologists have traditionally used the term "ape" to mean a member of the superfamily Hominoidea other than humans, [1] but more recently to mean all members of Hominoidea. So "ape"—not to be confused with "great ape"—now becomes another word for hominoid including humans. [3] [d]

The taxonomic term hominoid is derived from, and intended as encompassing, the hominids, the family of great apes. Both terms were introduced by Gray (1825). The term hominins is also due to Gray (1824), intended as including the human lineage (see also Hominidae#Terminology, Human taxonomy).

The distinction between apes and monkeys is complicated by the traditional paraphyly of monkeys: Apes emerged as a sister group of Old World Monkeys in the catarhines, which are a sister group of New World Monkeys. Therefore, cladistically, apes, catarrhines and related contemporary extinct groups such as Parapithecidaea are monkeys as well, for any consistent definition of "monkey". "Old World Monkey" may also legitimately be taken to be meant to include all the catarrhines, including apes and extinct species such as Aegyptopithecus, [8] [9] [10] [11] [ citation needed ] in which case the apes, Cercopithecoidea and Aegyptopithecus emerged within the Old World Monkeys.

The primates called "apes" today became known to Europeans after the 18th century. As zoological knowledge developed, it became clear that taillessness occurred in a number of different and otherwise distantly related species. Sir Wilfrid Le Gros Clark was one of those primatologists who developed the idea that there were trends in primate evolution and that the extant members of the order could be arranged in an ".. ascending series", leading from "monkeys" to "apes" to humans. Within this tradition "ape" came to refer to all members of the superfamily Hominoidea except humans. [1] As such, this use of "apes" represented a paraphyletic grouping, meaning that, even though all species of apes were descended from a common ancestor, this grouping did not include all the descendant species, because humans were excluded from being among the apes. [e]

Traditionally, the English-language vernacular name "apes" does not include humans, but phylogenetically, humans (Homo) form part of the family Hominidae within Hominoidaea. Thus, there are at least three common, or traditional, uses of the term "ape": non-specialists may not distinguish between "monkeys" and "apes", that is, they may use the two terms interchangeably or they may use "ape" for any tailless monkey or non-human hominoid or they may use the term "ape" to just mean the non-human hominoids.

Modern taxonomy aims for the use of monophyletic groups for taxonomic classification [12] [f] Some literature may now use the common name "ape" to mean all members of the superfamily Hominoidea, including humans. For example, in his 2005 book, Benton wrote "The apes, Hominoidea, today include the gibbons and orang-utan . the gorilla and chimpanzee . and humans". [3] Modern biologists and primatologists refer to apes that are not human as "non-human" apes. Scientists broadly, other than paleoanthropologists, may use the term "hominin" to identify the human clade, replacing the term "hominid". See terminology of primate names.

See below, History of hominoid taxonomy, for a discussion of changes in scientific classification and terminology regarding hominoids.

Genetic analysis combined with fossil evidence indicates that hominoids diverged from the Old World monkeys about 25 million years ago (mya), near the Oligocene-Miocene boundary. [13] [14] [15] The gibbons split from the rest about 18 mya, and the hominid splits happened 14 mya (Pongo), [16] 7 mya (Gorilla), and 3–5 mya (Homo & Pan). [17] In 2015, a new genus and species were described, Pliobates cataloniae, which lived 11.6 mya, and appears to predate the split between Hominidae and Hylobatidae. [18] [19] [20] [3] [ clarification needed ]

chimpanzees (genus Pan)

gorillas (genus Gorilla)

orangutans (genus Pongo)

gibbons/lesser apes (family Hylobatidae)

The families, and extant genera and species of hominoids are:

    Superfamily Hominoidea[21]
      Family Hominidae: hominids ("great apes")
        Genus Pongo: orangutans
          , P. pygmaeus , P. abelii , P. tapanuliensis[22]
          , G. gorilla , G. beringei
          , H. sapiens
          , P. troglodytes , P. paniscus
          Genus Hylobates
            or white-handed gibbon, H. lar , H. albibarbis or black-handed gibbon, H. agilis or grey gibbon, H. muelleri , H. moloch or capped gibbon, H. pileatus or Mentawai gibbon or bilou, H. klossii
            , H. hoolock , H. leuconedys , H. tianxing
            , S. syndactylus
            , N. annamensis , N. concolor , N. nasutus , N. hainanusN. siki , N. leucogenys , N. gabriellae

          The lesser apes are the gibbon family, Hylobatidae, of sixteen species all are native to Asia. Their major differentiating characteristic is their long arms, which they use to brachiate through trees. Their wrists are ball and socket joints as an evolutionary adaptation to their arboreal lifestyle. Generally smaller than the African apes, the largest gibbon, the siamang, weighs up to 14 kg (31 lb) in comparison, the smallest "great ape", the bonobo, is 34 to 60 kg (75 to 132 lb).

          The superfamily Hominoidea falls within the parvorder Catarrhini, which also includes the Old World monkeys of Africa and Eurasia. Within this grouping, the two families Hylobatidae and Hominidae can be distinguished from Old World monkeys by the number of cusps on their molars hominoids have five in the "Y-5" molar pattern, whereas Old World monkeys have only four in a bilophodont pattern.

          Further, in comparison with Old World monkeys, hominoids are noted for: more mobile shoulder joints and arms due to the dorsal position of the scapula broader ribcages that are flatter front-to-back and a shorter, less mobile spine, with greatly reduced caudal (tail) vertebrae—resulting in complete loss of the tail in living hominoid species. These are anatomical adaptations, first, to vertical hanging and swinging locomotion (brachiation) and, later, to developing balance in a bipedal pose. Note there are primates in other families that also lack tails, and at least one, the pig-tailed langur, is known to walk significant distances bipedally. The front of the ape skull is characterised by its sinuses, fusion of the frontal bone, and by post-orbital constriction.

          Although the hominoid fossil record is still incomplete and fragmentary, there is now enough evidence to provide an outline of the evolutionary history of humans. Previously, the divergence between humans and other living hominoids was thought to have occurred 15 to 20 million years ago, and several species of that time period, such as Ramapithecus, were once thought to be hominins and possible ancestors of humans. But, later fossil finds indicated that Ramapithecus was more closely related to the orangutan and new biochemical evidence indicates that the last common ancestor of humans and non-hominins (that is, the chimpanzees) occurred between 5 and 10 million years ago, and probably nearer the lower end of that range see Chimpanzee–human last common ancestor (CHLCA).

          Distinction from monkeys

          Cladistically, apes, catarrhines, and extinct species such as Aegyptopithecus and Parapithecidaea, are monkeys [ citation needed ] , so one can only specify ape features not present in other monkeys.

          Apes do not possess a tail, unlike most monkeys. Monkeys are more likely to be in trees and use their tails for balance. While the great apes are considerably larger than monkeys, gibbons (lesser apes) are smaller than some monkeys. Apes are considered to be more intelligent than monkeys, which are considered to have more primitive brains. [23]

          Major studies of behaviour in the field were completed on the three better-known "great apes", for example by Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas. These studies have shown that in their natural environments, the non-human hominoids show sharply varying social structure: gibbons are monogamous, territorial pair-bonders, orangutans are solitary, gorillas live in small troops with a single adult male leader, while chimpanzees live in larger troops with bonobos exhibiting promiscuous sexual behaviour. Their diets also vary gorillas are foliovores, while the others are all primarily frugivores, although the common chimpanzee does some hunting for meat. Foraging behaviour is correspondingly variable.

          Apart from humans and gorillas, apes eat a predominantly frugivorous diet, mostly fruit, but supplemented with a variety of other foods. Gorillas are predominately folivorous, eating mostly stalks, shoots, roots and leaves with some fruit and other foods. Non-human apes usually eat a small amount of raw animal foods such as insects or eggs. In the case of humans, migration and the invention of hunting tools and cooking has led to an even wider variety of foods and diets, with many human diets including large amounts of cooked tubers (roots) or legumes. [24] Other food production and processing methods including animal husbandry and industrial refining and processing have further changed human diets. [25] Humans and other apes occasionally eat other primates. [26] Some of these primates are now close to extinction with habitat loss being the underlying cause. [27] [28]


          All the non-human hominoids are generally thought of as highly intelligent, and scientific study has broadly confirmed that they perform very well on a wide range of cognitive tests—though there is relatively little data on gibbon cognition. The early studies by Wolfgang Köhler demonstrated exceptional problem-solving abilities in chimpanzees, which Köhler attributed to insight. The use of tools has been repeatedly demonstrated more recently, the manufacture of tools has been documented, both in the wild and in laboratory tests. Imitation is much more easily demonstrated in "great apes" than in other primate species. Almost all the studies in animal language acquisition have been done with "great apes", and though there is continuing dispute as to whether they demonstrate real language abilities, there is no doubt that they involve significant feats of learning. Chimpanzees in different parts of Africa have developed tools that are used in food acquisition, demonstrating a form of animal culture. [29]

          The history of hominoid taxonomy is complex and somewhat confusing. Recent evidence has changed our understanding of the relationships between the hominoids, especially regarding the human lineage and the traditionally used terms have become somewhat confused. Competing approaches to methodology and terminology are found among current scientific sources. Over time, authorities have changed the names and the meanings of names of groups and subgroups as new evidence—that is, new discoveries of fossils and tools and of observations in the field, plus continual comparisons of anatomy and DNA sequences—has changed the understanding of relationships between hominoids. There has been a gradual demotion of humans from being 'special' in the taxonomy to being one branch among many. This recent turmoil (of history) illustrates the growing influence on all taxonomy of cladistics, the science of classifying living things strictly according to their lines of descent.

          Today, there are eight extant genera of hominoids. They are the four genera in the family Hominidae, namely Homo, Pan, Gorilla, and Pongo plus four genera in the family Hylobatidae (gibbons): Hylobates, Hoolock, Nomascus and Symphalangus. [21] (The two subspecies of hoolock gibbons were recently moved from the genus Bunopithecus to the new genus Hoolock and re-ranked as species a third species was described in January 2017). [30] )

          In 1758, Carl Linnaeus, relying on second- or third-hand accounts, placed a second species in Homo along with H. sapiens: Homo troglodytes ("cave-dwelling man"). Although the term "Orang Outang" is listed as a variety – Homo sylvestris – under this species, it is nevertheless not clear to which animal this name refers, as Linnaeus had no specimen to refer to, hence no precise description. Linnaeus may have based Homo troglodytes on reports of mythical creatures, then-unidentified simians, or Asian natives dressed in animal skins. [31] Linnaeus named the orangutan Simia satyrus ("satyr monkey"). He placed the three genera Homo, Simia and Lemur in the order of Primates.

          The troglodytes name was used for the chimpanzee by Blumenbach in 1775, but moved to the genus Simia. The orangutan was moved to the genus Pongo in 1799 by Lacépède.

          Linnaeus's inclusion of humans in the primates with monkeys and apes was troubling for people who denied a close relationship between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom. Linnaeus's Lutheran archbishop had accused him of "impiety". In a letter to Johann Georg Gmelin dated 25 February 1747, Linnaeus wrote:

          It is not pleasing to me that I must place humans among the primates, but man is intimately familiar with himself. Let's not quibble over words. It will be the same to me whatever name is applied. But I desperately seek from you and from the whole world a general difference between men and simians from the principles of Natural History. I certainly know of none. If only someone might tell me one! If I called man a simian or vice versa I would bring together all the theologians against me. Perhaps I ought to, in accordance with the law of Natural History. [32]

          Accordingly, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in the first edition of his Manual of Natural History (1779), proposed that the primates be divided into the Quadrumana (four-handed, i.e. apes and monkeys) and Bimana (two-handed, i.e. humans). This distinction was taken up by other naturalists, most notably Georges Cuvier. Some elevated the distinction to the level of order.

          However, the many affinities between humans and other primates – and especially the "great apes" – made it clear that the distinction made no scientific sense. In his 1871 book The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, Charles Darwin wrote:

          The greater number of naturalists who have taken into consideration the whole structure of man, including his mental faculties, have followed Blumenbach and Cuvier, and have placed man in a separate Order, under the title of the Bimana, and therefore on an equality with the orders of the Quadrumana, Carnivora, etc. Recently many of our best naturalists have recurred to the view first propounded by Linnaeus, so remarkable for his sagacity, and have placed man in the same Order with the Quadrumana, under the title of the Primates. The justice of this conclusion will be admitted: for in the first place, we must bear in mind the comparative insignificance for classification of the great development of the brain in man, and that the strongly marked differences between the skulls of man and the Quadrumana (lately insisted upon by Bischoff, Aeby, and others) apparently follow from their differently developed brains. In the second place, we must remember that nearly all the other and more important differences between man and the Quadrumana are manifestly adaptive in their nature, and relate chiefly to the erect position of man such as the structure of his hand, foot, and pelvis, the curvature of his spine, and the position of his head. [33]

          Watch the video: Munjeni Majmuni (February 2023).