How Did Humans Evolve From Apes

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How Did Humans Evolve From Apes – When I’m on Twitter, every now and then a witty or funny tweet catches my attention. I laugh and sometimes I tweet. However, I often read tweets that cause anxiety and make me squint at my computer screen with a distraught fish face. I’m talking about tweets like this (Figure 1):

Here is what mr. Allen probably envisions when he thinks of evolution: At some point in the past, this long-legged ape-like creature you see in the zoo—which Mr. Allen calls a “monkey” – had a baby that looks less “monkey” and more “human”. Over several generations, this trend has reached a peak with us (Figure 2). The small-scale equivalent (if you “zoom in”) would be a linear genealogical chain from grandparent to grandchild.

How Did Humans Evolve From Apes

How Did Humans Evolve From Apes

Figure 2: A (scary) cartoon showing how many people think evolution happens. According to this cartoon, evolution is strictly linear, with more “primitive” organisms evolving into “less primitive”. Modified from the original, CC BY-SA 2.0

Chimpanzees Can’t Tell Us Much About Being Human

Mr. Allen’s question could be a publicity stunt, or maybe he’s just being a provocateur, but many of the 50,000 “likes” his tweet currently has are probably genuine. It gives me a cold sweat. Why? Let me use a generational parallel on a smaller scale to paraphrase his tweet, though I venture my own argument: “If I’m Alan’s great-grandson, why do I have Alan’s cousins?” This question reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the natural phenomenon of evolution. For an evolutionary biologist like me living in the 21st century, this question is as wrong as asking why people on the other side of the world don’t end up in the vacuum of space.

Evolution is not a linear process that begins with the apparently more “primitive” organisms we can observe today and ends with the human species (as shown in Figure 2). Erase this simple cartoon from your mind, Mr. Allen. Instead, look closely at Figure 3. Biologists have given such diagrams a fancy name: cladograms. Unlike Figure 2, a cladogram shows the most important (and ongoing!) aspect of the evolutionary process: “branching,” or what biologists refer to as cladogenesis. Cladogenetic events are moments in time during which a species splits into two species – these events are also known as speciation events. In Figure 3 these events are represented by the points where one line “forks” into two lines.

Figure 3: A diagram (also known as a cladogram) showing evolution in detail. Two or more species arise from ancestral species as a result of speciation (or cladogenetic) events—when a lineage splits in two. Starting from the present and going back in time, it is clear that every species shares a common ancestor with every other species at some point in the past. This means that all species share a common ancestor and are therefore always related. This powerful idea is known as common descent and was proposed by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. Modified from the original, CC0 (Public Domain).

The branching nature of cladogenesis has two important consequences. First, since two or more new species always descend from the same ancestral species (and this process has been going on since the beginning of life), any two species we currently observe are related. The truth may hurt, but yes, humans and chimpanzees are (distant) relatives. Blue whales, white sharks, sequoia trees, fungi, flies, earthworms, bacteria, etc. everyone is your family

The Human Family Tree

This idea of ​​universal relatedness, also known as common descent, was proposed by none other than Charles Darwin himself in On the Origin of Species [1] , but by the often overlooked Alfred Russel Wallace [2] . Common descent is probably the most important and accepted idea in biology.

A second consequence is that when biological classification is done, cladogenesis leads to a natural hierarchy of groups in which one can be placed within another group. Sometimes a look is worth a thousand words, so look at Figure 4. These primate species share many characteristics that allow us to classify them into successively more inclusive groups. Hominidae consists of all humans, chimpanzees and bonobos, gorillas and orangutans. If we add gibbons to the mix, we now have the Hominoidea (or “monkeys”). Finally, if we include Old World monkeys (eg, a macaque) and New World monkeys (eg, a marmoset), we get the Anthropoidea (or “simians”). Hominids nested within hominoids, which in turn nested within anthropoids. And the deeper a group is, the more similar its species will be.

For the most part, today’s biological classification follows the classical rules, a framework for the study of biodiversity proposed by the German entomologist Willi Hennig [3]. Classical is a big topic, but we can focus on the main principle: the only biological classifications that make evolutionary sense are nested groups (such as those highlighted in Figure 4) that contain an ancestor and all its descendants. These nested groups are called clades.

How Did Humans Evolve From Apes

Think of clades as super-big, old “families” that include a great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great – great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great -great-great- great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great -great-great-great-great- great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great- great-grand whom he loves (many, many blog pages later)-maternal grandfather/grandfather and all his grandfathers-great-grandfathers to this day. “Apes” (also known as Hominoidea, as defined above), is the order to which we humans belong, along with bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons. We live alone

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Figure 4: A cladogram with eight mammal species. Different colored lines highlight nested groups – clades – species. Clades include an ancestral species (that lived at the point where a lineage splits in two) and all its descendants. Hominidae is within Hominoidea, which in turn is within Anthropoidea. Biologists arrive at these groups by comparing species according to many of their characteristics, including at the DNA and protein levels. Note that a human is as ape as a macaque, and an orangutan is as anthropomorphic as a human, but a macaque is not anthropomorphic.

We now have everything we need to Mr. To answer Allen’s question. If you just scroll through the rest of the post, here’s the take home message.

We did not evolve from a living modern ape like a chimpanzee. We evolved from and are descended from a common ancestor of monkeys that lived and died in the distant past. This means that we are related to other monkeys and are monkeys ourselves. And besides us, other species of living monkeys also evolved from the same common ancestor and exist today in nature and zoos.

The ability to currently observe ape species other than us humans poses no problem for evolution – otherwise observing and learning from them could teach us more about ourselves!

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[1] Darwin, CR (1859). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. London: John Murray.

[2] Darwin, C.R., Wallace, A.R. (1858). On the Tendency of Species to Form Varieties; and On the Perpetuation of Species by the Means of Natural Selection, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 3(9), 45-62. If humans evolved from monkeys, why do monkeys still exist? A closer look at the evolution of humans and apes.

In 2017, actor and comedian Tim Allen tweeted a question that revealed how little he knew about evolution. It seems he is not alone. His tweet received almost 50,000 “likes” and 13,000 retweets. It’s safe to assume that many of the people who responded to Allen’s post wanted to know the answer to the question he posed as a statement: “If we evolved from apes, why are there still apes?”

How Did Humans Evolve From Apes

The short answer is that “we didn’t evolve from any of the animals alive today,” says Zach Cofran, an anthropologist at Vassar College. That is, humans did not evolve from the gorillas we see in it. The zoo or the chimpanzees we photograph on a safari. “It’s a common misconception that apes are one step away from becoming human, or something along the way,” says Kafran. But he adds that this is not the case.

Fossil Reveals What Last Common Ancestor Of Humans And Apes Looked Like

Charles Darwin, the naturalist best known for his theories of natural selection, described evolution as “descent with change,” Cofran says. This means that humans are descended from a common (and now extinct) ape ancestor that lived millions of years ago, a process called “common descent.” “Each of us has adapted to our own environments or circumstances,” says Kafran. This divergence of humans from chimpanzees is thought to have occurred between 9.3 and 6.5 million years ago.

The bottom line is that all humans are apes, and as such all humans are related to other apes. This idea of ​​universal relatedness “is actually pretty humbling, because when you think about it, we share a common ancestor with almost everything that lives on Earth,” says Kafran. In other words, we are all of the same generation.

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