Human evolution from apes

Hello Everyone,
The thinking goes is that we humans evolved from apes. Why are there still apes around then? In other words, why didn’t all apes evolve into humans?

Dang it, thread was supposed to be in GQ. Mods, could you move it for me. Sorry and thanks.

Some apes moved on and evolved to exploit new niches … other apes stayed put and continued to exploit the old niche …

“Which ape do I tranquilize?”
“The one playing chess, you idiot”

I believe the theory is that apes and humans evolved from a common ancestor. In other words our ancestors, evolutionarily speaking, hit a fork in the road, splitting off to become apes down one road and humans down the other.

Rationalwiki has a good articleon this.

Evolution is not replacement.

There used to be a species of ape-like animals. Then one day one of those animals had a mutation in one of its genes. Some of its descendants carried that gene into future generations. Other animals of that species were not descendants of that animal with the mutated gene so they didn’t carry that gene.

This process continued over and over again and eventually some of the animals in this species had so much genetic difference from the others that they could no longer interbreed and they effectively became a new species. What happened was one species breaking up into two different species (or, depending on your viewpoint, one species splitting off from the original species). It was not one species suddenly turning into another species; chimps didn’t suddenly begin having human babies. The two now-separate species were still living alongside each other.

I descended from my mother. So why is my mother still around?

Some informal answers from the link I provided above:

If dogs are domesticated wolves, how come there are still wolves?
If white Americans and white Australians are both descended from Europeans, how come there are still Europeans?
If Protestants came from Catholics, how come there are still Catholics?[11]
If Christians came from Jews, how come there are still Jews?[Note 4]
If rock-and-roll came from the blues, how come there is still the blues?
If the Afrikaans language is descended from Dutch, how come people still speak Dutch?
If rain comes from clouds, how come there are still clouds?

If you want to get pedantic, human beings are apes.

No, the thinking is that humans and apes have a common ancester. Anyone who thinks humans evolved from apes is kinda dumb. (And I’m probably being nice.)

Where were they supposed to go exactly? Why should they leave?

Most likely because they were too busy being apes. Foraging. Playing. Sleeping. Fucking. What exactly should they have been doing?

Seems to me you have a serious misunderstanding of evolution.

And so is the common ancestor between us and the chimpanzees, or between us and the gorillas, or us and the orangutans, or us and gibbons.

Kind of. More like, humans and the different kinds of non-human apes each went down its own its own road, splitting off from the others in a long drawn-out process that probably lasted a few million years in each case. Humans, gorillas, and chimpanzees are genetically closer to each other than any of them is to orangutans, and all four of those are genetically closer to one another than any of them are to gibbons. If memory serves, chimpanzees and humans split off from one another somewhere between six and ten mya.

Correct. I thought about including information about the other species of ape too but decided for the sake of brevity that the answer I gave was good enough to explain to the OP what he/she wanted (and needed) to know, which is that humans did not descend from apes.

I’m thinking the word ‘ignorant’ would be both nicer and more accurate.

Since there is a column on this, this is the appropriate forum.

If man is descended from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?

Evolution means that somewhere in the past, we share a common ancestor. The lines diverged at that point.

Incidentally, we just got a new “cousin”, so to speak.

Why do people have to be so mean about their responses? :dubious:

It’s a question that gets asked a lot. It has a reasonable set of answers. They can be delivered in a nicer way.

We evolved from a common ancestor, not from the apes that exist today. At some point, part of the population of that common ancestor became isolated from the other. At some point those two now isolated species evolved enough to become different species. Think of it like a tree trunk with branches. Our branch forked from the other. That other fork then forked with species isolated, some dying out, some becoming different species that eventually became, say, a gorilla. On our branch, same thing…several species on our branch became extinct after evolving into various hominids. Ours continued and eventually, we arrive at where we are today.

The key take-away though wrt your OP is that we didn’t evolve from apes. If you can grasp that part then you will be further along in understanding evolution.

The simplest counter to the OP question that I remember was:

“There are still monkeys (and gorillas, orangutans, bonobos, etc) because there was and there is still work to do among the trees.”

Of course, one does wonder now if thanks to the shrinking habitats and poaching if the ones asking that question will not have to ask it anymore in the future.


If I had to guess its because those questions don’t seem sincere. Frequently they are posed as snarky "gotcha"s to people who have a religious agenda.

I’m not accusing the OP of it, just pointing out it happens. I can think of much better ways to ask about evolution.

If we weren’t, I’d be curious when we stopped being so.

I’m incidentally reminded of a line Frank Gorshin delivers in an original-series Star Trek episode about human evolution. It strikes just the right tone of sneering contempt without being specific enough to give clear offense.

The simplest rebuttal I’ve heard to the OP’s question is “Well, Americans descended from Europeans. Why are there still Europeans?”