• Question: If we evolved from apes then why are there still apes? Is it because apes are still reproducing or is the theory false?

    Asked by 492genb43 to Barbara, Matt, Ravinder, Sophie, Tristan on 17 Mar 2015.
    • Photo: Matthew Moore

      Matthew Moore answered on 17 Mar 2015:

      Good question!

      This is a common misconception about evolution, that it works in a linear manner, in reality humans and apes have a common ancestor millions of years ago. This common ancestor was neither ape or human and diverged to become both, so in one place this common ancestor evolved into an ape and in another into humans.

      This split wouldn’t have just produce humans and chimpanzees of course too, there would have been many branches off that lineage, many other human species and many other ape species for which there are fossils and even DNA evidence!

      Homo erectus for example lived in both Africa and Europe, another split occurred here where Homo Erectus in Europe became Homo neanderthalensis and Homo erectus in Africa became Homo sapiens (us). Homo neanderthalensis (the Neanderthals) died out in Europe around 30,000 years ago but some of their DNA remained preserved enough for scientists to actually sequence it and compare it to ours!

      Does that make sense?

    • Photo: Sophie Robinson

      Sophie Robinson answered on 17 Mar 2015:

      Good question. We didn’t actually evolve from apes per se. We evolved from a common ancestor that turned into two species – us and apes – and probably other species too. Think of how a parent can have two or more children – the same was the case for our common ancestor who evolved into two or more other species.

      So you can see how evolution does not happen along a straight line but splits off into branches, almost like a family tree.

      The common ancestor probably split off into Homo (Humans) and Pan (Chimpanzees) between 7 and 13 million years ago.