Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Distant Mirror

While apes are our closest cousins on the tree of life, monkeys offer more distant insights into our family lineage.

One of the incorrect arguments against evolution is to question why if we evolved from monkeys are monkeys still around? The question is flawed on several levels. We didn't evolved from monkeys. Monkeys, apes and humans evolved from a common ancestor. An ancestor that has in fact gone extinct. But just as both you and your ancestors and-or descendants can be alive at the same time, evolution does not demand that ancestors disappear when new species split off from the ancestral stock. It is enough that the descendant and ancestor species be separated in space so that they can no longer interbreed. And thus the genetic lineages diverge over time.

So while monkeys are not our ancestors, we can still learn from them what our common ancestor may have been like. We can study behaviors across species and infer that common behaviors derive from that common ancestor.

One of the reasons monkeys are so fascinating to observe its that we can see ourselves in them. We recognize those common behaviors while at the same time knowing the differences.

So, do you recognize any of these fellows in the folks that gather around your Thanksgiving table?

(I definitely recognize the one sticking out her tongue!)


Chesney said...

It's my entire family lol Great pics!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Tammy all Honoured members of our family tree, in fact I think the second last ones name is Steve?? Hey We're related too!
Danudin, Ron