As I have related previously, creationists often ask the stupid question: “if we evolved from apes, how come there are still apes around?”. As I stated then, it demonstrates a profound ignorance not only of evolution, but of biological science in general, and makes as much sense as asking: “If I was born of my mother, how come she is still around?”1. Now, however, I have discovered creationists who have sunk to new depths of stupidity and ignorance. The question of why there are still apes around, pales by comparison with their latest effort. It is: “Why haven’t all the apes evolved into humans?”. This, like all their other questions, demonstrates an exceptionally profound ignorance of evolution. They are apparently conflating evolution with morphing, a special effect used in movies and animations in which one image or shape changes into another seamlessly2. While it was used in movies during the 1980s, the subsequent explosion of computer technology, allowed it to increase in sophistication, and made it more commonly used. Now you can install morphing software on your personal computer2.
Apart from creationists also conflating species (e.g. Pan troglodytes– the common chimpanzee3) with a group of species (e.g. Hominoidea – a superfamily comprising 23 species4), they also seem to think that when someone says that Species B evolved from Species A, they assume that all individuals of Species A morphed into Species B. That is not how it happens. The evolution of a new species is called speciation. One of the most common ways for a new species to emerge is by geographic isolation. This is called allopatric speciation.
Perhaps the most famous example of allopatric speciation is that of Darwin’s finches. This is a group of 15 species endemic to the Galapagos and Cocos islands in the eastern Pacific. They belong to the group referred to colloquially as tanagers5. They are formally referred to the Family Thraupidae, of the Passeriformes (the songbirds), and are sometimes assigned to their own subfamily, the Geospizinae6. They are assigned to five genera: Geospiza, Camarhynchus, Certhidea, Pinaroloxias and Platyspiza.
Genetic analysis has shown that these finches likely evolved from a species of the genus Tiaris (the grassquits) and the nearest living relative to the Galapagos finches is the species Tiaris obscurus, a native of tropical and subtropical lowland forest of northwestern South America7. From the genetic analysis, it is estimated that the original arrival in the Galapagos Islands happened about 2.3 million years ago, and an adaptive radiation across the various islands followed, such that Darwin’s finches are all very closely related to one another, more so than to any species of Tiaris7. This betrays their origin from a single immigrant species.