eventually will all monkeys and apes evolve into man?

A question for mr. darwin

I suppose a short question begs a short answer.


No. Man did not evolve from monkeys or apes, and there’s nothing in their genes, or in the process of natural selection, pushing those forms towards human forms.
Man, monkeys and apes share a common ancestor. That’s all.

The reason our remote ancestors lineage split from that of the apes was that at that time (several million years ago), it was possible for a creature with some proto-human characteristics to survive as well or better than your standard ape. And then it was possible for variants within that population to survive, and so forth. That was possible because of special conditions that no longer exist, including the absence of competition from already existing humans.

Think econiche, the biological equivalent of an untapped market. The standard scenerio is that 5-10 million years ago, climate changes resulted in the bottom falling out of the “being an ape” business. Some became “bankrupt” (extinct), some managed to survive in limited range and numbers, and a few experimented with living on the open savannah instead of the forests.

The reason we don’t see any chimp populations veering towards becoming hominids today is that by definition the ancestors of today’s chimps survived by being chimps, while humans have completely taken over the “market” for bipedal, tool-using anthropoids. It’s a little like saying “why doesn’t anyone today start a PC business in their garage like Gates and Wozniak did?”

Do you eat termites out of termite mounds with a stick? Until then, no.

You DO realize that Mr. Darwin is dead, correct?

[obligitory Monty Python response] He’s not dead, he’s pining for the fjords. [/oMPr]

Actually Zub, these people are lying to you. Apes are evolving to human, they have to in order to fill the void that humans will leave as we evolve into the little grey aliens.

As I see it, the problem with the OP’s question is the implicit assumption that evolution has man as its highest goal. It has been pointed out that the primate ancestors of man are not still around. But, even if the primate ancestors of man were around, there is no reason to think that the chance elements that resulted in man would happen again.

thank you all

Funny, but you’re not helping cure ignorance (the point of the Straight Dope).

As has been said, the answer is no because (1) humans did not evolve from modern monkey/ape species…rather humans/monkeys/apes had a common ancestor and (2) there’s no evolutionary “force” that leads to humans.

More accurately, evolution is not directed along a certain path…one species is not “more evolved” than another. Humans are not at an evolutionary apex…we’re just another species subject to evolutionary processes. If you rewind history millions of years and set it going again, H. sapiens would not necessarily evolve again (unless of course, the Hand of God is directing evolution as the Roman Catholics and many other religions believe…but that’s another debate).

There is a valid question to consider in the OP, with a little alteration:

If humans disappeared from the face of the Earth tomorrow, would another animal (possibly one of the apes) evolve to fill the human niche?

Phobos wrote:

While that is certainly true, there are patterns in evolution. When a niche is available, it tends to get filled by one species or another.

Moreover, we see examples of parallel evolution. Reptilian icthyosaurs and mammalian dolphins both evolved more or less the same body type to fill the same ecological niche.

It is not unreasonable to believe that if the human niche came up vacant, some other creature might evolve to fill the void.

Geez. The question had already been answered. Lighten up.

What, you haven’t seen that movie or any of the sequels? Don’t worry, the remake is coming out soon.

The answer, complete with long-winded and probably futile explanation and examples:

The Answer: No.

The LWAPFEAE: It is against the rules for an extant species to evolve into another extant species. This is what throws a lot of opponents to evolution off – the idea that Gramma evolved from a monkey. She didn’t. Try to think of it this way:

Imagine a very bushy plant growing out of the ground. At the lowest level, there is a single, main trunk rising from the soil. Now follow the main trunk upwards to where it splits into 5 or 6 sub trunks – still very large but each smaller than the main one. Pick a sub trunk, follow it up until it splits again into 5 or 6 sub-sub trunks. Keep going with this for 5 more divisions, until you get to the leaves of a very bushy plant. This is similar to the taxonomic “tree of life model” used to note the closeness of relation between various species.

Of course taxonomy doesn’t work out into neat fives like my example does, but it should give you some idea. I’ll do it multiplicatively for you here (with taxonomic explanations in parentheses). :

1 trunk ** 1 ** (all carbon-based terrestrial life forms)
5 sub trunks ** 5 ** (kingdoms: plants, animals, fungi, protists, etc.)
5 sub-sub trunks each ** 25 ** (phyla: (ex) chordata, humans and all other chordates)
5 sub-sub-sub trunks each ** 125 ** (class: (ex) vertebrata, humans and all other vertebrates)
5 sub-sub-sub-sub trunks each ** 625 ** (order: (ex) mammalia, humans and all other mammals)
5 sub-sub-sub-sub-sub trunks each ** 3125 *(family: (ex) primidae, humans and other primates)
5 sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub trunks each ** 15625 ** (genus: (ex) Homo, humans are only extant example)
5 sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub trunks each ** 78125 ** (species: (ex) sapiens, the human species)

The species trunks (smallest and most numerous) are like the leaves of the bushy plant. When you think of how a plant grows, stuff doesn’t go down from one leaf and grow up another, does it? No, and the same with taxonomy (the grouping together of similar organisms). Each species (like each uppermost leaf stem) may grow and split, making new species, but one isn’t going to change itself into any other that already exists as a separate species.

In the same way apes and monkeys are related to humans (based on branching from a relatively high up point on the tree -the “family” or “genus” level) but will not evolve into humans, fish are related to humans too, at a much more primitive branching, but no extant fish species will or ever has evolved into humans, either. The trunks that lead to modern fish and modern humans separated at the “order” level – humans are mammals, fish are piscine.

Evolutionary theory is really a beautiful model of how life on earth works, when the theory is fully understood. Newsweek reporters and Jack Chick probably aren’t at that level. There are many subtleties that are easy to gloss over, and failure to understand these subtleties is what makes evolution seem somewhat absurd. I hope my explanation helps; for further information I would recommend picking up some issues of Natural History magazine published between 1976 and 2001 and reading the regular column “This View of Life”, written by Steven Jay Gould. He is the acknowledged master of explaining evolutionary intricacies.
*I could be wrong about the family name. I’m at work and don’t have a freshman level BIO text handy. Forgive me if this isn’t exactly it.

I’d have to argue with those who said that “Man did not evolve from apes”. The common ancestor of humans and modern apes was almost certainly something we’d call an “ape” if we analyzed it’s anatomy. We just didn’t evolve from chimps or gorillas.

missdavis102 wrote:


vertebra is a sub-phylum, not a class.
mammalia is a class, not an order.
primates (whatever they’re called) are an order, not a family.

The family that humans belong to is hominidae. According to the most recent taxonomic definitions I’ve seen, we share family hominidae with gorillas, chimps, and bonobos – but not orangutans.


I’m hoping that all answers will be given to us in the upcoming Planet of the Apes movie. :wink:

Hey tracer, thanks for setting my classifications straight. As noted in my *, I didn’t have a textbook handy so that was all off the top of my head, and freshman biology has been, um, a few years ago.