As I related in previous rants dealing with the ignorance of creationists, I am thoroughly sick of their idiotic questions such as: ‘if we evolved from apes how come there are still apes around’1; and ‘why haven’t all the apes evolved into humans’2.
As well as not understanding evolution, creationists do not understand what the word ‘ape’ means, although I have attempted to explain it before1. Not only do they apparently have no idea of the variety of modern apes, they also have absolutely no understanding of what ‘earlier’ apes were like. In recent years, many more fossils of early apes have been found, but creationists, unlike scientists, just stick to their dogma. In their febrile imagination, religious humans are the apotheosis of evolution and are the evolutionary ‘aim’ of all the organisms on the planet. As a consequence, they make the now unjustified assumption that fossil apes were ‘the same’ as modern apes. However, that is not the case. Creationists assume that if anyone refers to fossil apes then they are referring to ‘carbon copies’ of modern apes, almost as if modern apes were time travellers from the past.
While hominin fossils like the famous Lucy, which belongs to the species Australopithecus afarensis, were often interpreted during the late 20th century in a framework that used living African apes, especially chimpanzees, as proxies for the immediate ancestors of the human lineage3,4. This was largely because of the absence of many fossils of apes. That is not the case now.
Such projection has now largely had to be jettisoned by the discovery of such fossil species as Ardipithecus ramidus from 4.4 million years ago3. In the context of accumulating evidence from genetics, developmental biology, anatomy, ecology, biogeography and geology, this species has altered perspectives on how our earliest hominid ancestors, and our closest living relatives, the modern apes, evolved4. Despite what creationists would have you believe, modern apes have evolved, and they may not be so primitive.
Ardipithecus ramidus was a primate with no close analogue among living apes. Before its discovery, conventional wisdom held that chimpanzees were largely ‘primitive’, and that humans were more advanced compared to earlier forms much like them. That meant that the degree of “primitiveness” of characteristics (including behaviour) could be determined through simple comparison with the chimpanzee homologue. The fallacy of this logic is amply illustrated by Ardipithecus. For instance, it was often suggested that knuckle-walking was a primitive trait because several modern apes use it. The logic had it that therefore the last common ancestor would have had this kind of locomotion. However, despite intensive searching, no compelling evidence of this type of locomotion has been found in fossil deposits from around the time of the last common ancestor (of us and chimpanzees). The existence of Ardipithecus ramidus suggests that none will be4. Indeed, this species indicates that the human lineage has retained some of the primitive traits present in the last common ancestor and that modern apes haven’t3,4.
- Pattison, K.,2020. Fossil men: the quest for the oldest skeleton and the origins of humankind. William Morrow, New York. 534p.