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

  1. Nov 13, 2007 #1


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    Obviously apes and humans have different "ideal" environments, but often humans and apes live in the same area. Apes live in jungles. Humans live in jungles. If humans and their predecessors were able to live in such an environment, why do monkeys/gorillas/other still exist in those areas?
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  3. Nov 13, 2007 #2

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    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.
  4. Nov 13, 2007 #3


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    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.
  5. Nov 13, 2007 #4


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    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?

    Thanks for the replies.
  6. Nov 13, 2007 #5
    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.
  7. Nov 13, 2007 #6

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    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".
  8. Nov 13, 2007 #7
    "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.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2007
  9. Dec 8, 2007 #8
    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?

  10. Dec 8, 2007 #9


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    I love that, man! In fact, I love it so much that I'm going to steal it. Actually, I'll trade one for it.
    If birds exist, why do we still have alligators? After all, they're both surviving dinosaurs. :rolleyes:
  11. Dec 8, 2007 #10
    aren't humans apes just as much as chimps are apes?
  12. Dec 8, 2007 #11


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    Pretty much, yeah.

    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.
  13. Dec 8, 2007 #12
    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.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2007
  14. Dec 9, 2007 #13
    I'm of the view that success in dealing with your environment and lack of challenge tends to select for more of the same and an eventual evolutionary cul de sac. It's the unsuccessful that keep evolving and developing. We are what we are because we weren't very capable at occupying the niches of our cousin hominids.
  15. Dec 9, 2007 #14
    And some of the earlier hominids vanished because they couldn't cope with a changing environment or were out competed by others. Ourselves for instance.
  16. Dec 9, 2007 #15
    Using the creationist's logic, one could also ask, "why do some humans still live in huts and speak in clicks while others have built cities and spacecraft and supercomputers?"
  17. Dec 9, 2007 #16


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    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...
  18. Mar 8, 2010 #17
    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.
  19. Mar 8, 2010 #18
    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.
  20. Mar 9, 2010 #19
    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.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  21. Mar 9, 2010 #20


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    Are you suggesting that living conditions around the Mediterranean were harsh?
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