Do you want to know more about evolution? How are humans and apes related? Who were the first humans? You’ll find out everything you wanted to know about apes and humans connection here!
One of the most interesting and complex topics studied in the course of general biology is the origin of man. Where, when and how the human race originated? How does it spread arounf the world? Are humans evolved from apes?
Are humans related to apes?
In the last century there were two responses to European culture: one given in the Bible, the other - in Charles Darwin's theory. Although the origin of man from ape-like ancestor was one of the particular consequences of the Darwinian theory of evolution, of course, this question - whether the person is created by God or evolved from monkeys - drew the attention of the general public.
The most orthodox proponents of Bible versions say that each species, including man, was created by God. Field studies, which are created to find scientific evidence of this version, is called creationism. Modern creationists confirm the texts of the Biblewith their accurate calculations. In particular, they prove that Noah's ark could accommodate all the pairs of creatures - as the fish and other aquatic animals was not necesarly put in the ark, so the rest of vertebrates was about 20 thousand species.
If you multiply this number by two (in the ark male and female were taken together), you get about 40 thousand animals. Medium size van for transporting of sheep can accommodate 240 animals. So, one would have 146 such vans. And the ark of length 300, width 50 and a height of 30 cubits could accommodate 522 vans. So, the place for all animals would be found and some would certainly remain - to feeding places and for humans. Also God, according to Thomas Heinz of the Institute for Creation Research, surely guessed to take small and young animals, so they took up less space, and were actively breeding.
Charles Darwin did not deny the existence of God, but believed that God created only the initial views, while the rest have arisen under the influence of natural selection. Alfred Wallace, who came to the discovery of the principle of natural selection almost simultaneously with Darwin, unlike the last one claimed that between humans and animals there is a sharp bound in mental activity relation. He came to the conclusion that the human brain can not be regarded as the result of natural selection. Wallace proclaimed that the ‘thinking tool’ is the result of the needs of its owner, and assumed ‘supreme intelligent being’.
The human is the animal, so that is where the interest originates. The man’s interest in his own peculiar origin exised since ancient times. The more scientists study the fossil record, the clearer picture emerges in the transformation of the ape to a man. Modern concepts are much more difficult to set out in our old textbooks ‘only true’ theory, which can be summarized in the words of Abraham third (Sinyavsky): ‘The monkey got up on his hind legs and went straight to communism’.
How are humans and apes related?
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So are humans apes? Anthropology is the study of the origin and evolution of human. Human evolution is the formation of the human due to the evolutionary process. The main questions of anthropology are questions about the place and time of the appearance of man, the main stages of his evolution, the driving forces and factors, the ratio of anthropogenesis and sociogenesis.
The initial idea of the origin of man and society are reflected in the ancient mythologies. Later, there were different versions of the religious view of the origin of man.
For example, in Christianity it is believed that the first man, Adam, was created by God from the dust, and the first woman Eve - from Adam's rib. Regardless of the particular version of the essence of the religious answer to the question of the origin of man, it remains the same: the man is a creature of God, and the matters accompanying and forming a creative, divine act, are mystery.
However, the idea of natural origin of human appears in ancient philosophy. But the ancient ideas about human origins were speculative, and sometimes had a fantastic character, being not so much the result of generalization of objective data, but the product of a sophisticated imagination of the ancient philosophers.
The rapid development of anthropology began in the second half of the XIX century just after the establishment of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
German biologist Haeckel advanced the hypothesis of the existence of last intermediate between ape and man kind, which he called Pithecanthropus (ape). He also suggested that human ancestors were not modern apes, but driopithecus (ancient ape). From them, one line of evolution has gone to chimpanzees and gorillas, the other - to the man. Twenty million years ago under the influence of cooling jungle created a retreat and one of the branches driopithecus had to get off the tree and go to the upright posture. Their remains were found in India.
In 1960 in East Africa, the English archaeologist L. Leakey found ‘Homo habilis’, whose age was 2 million years. His brain volume was 670 cm3. In these layers, there were found tools made from the split river pebbles, pointed with a few chips. Later in Kenya remains of creatures of the same type (age 5.5 million years old) were also found.
After that the opinion strengthened: it is in East Africa in the Quaternary period of the Cenozoic era! There was a division of human and ape. There appeared the separated evolutionary lines of humans and chimpanzees.
Current data of molecular biology allow us to establish that the human and chimp have 91% of similar genes, human and gibbon - 76%, humans and macaques - 66%. In a genetic sense, the chimpanzee is considered the closest of modern apes to the man. However, the study of morphological traits shows that a person is more resemble to the gorilla - 385. Then the chimps – 369; orangutan - 359 and gibbon - 117.
Apes are more similar to a man than with the lower apes, however, as the ancestors of monkeys and apes had common similarities between them, whereas in comparison with the lower apes man does not have any similarities.
What was the cause of a person’s appearing in a particular place? In East Africa, uranium outputs marked rocks and recorded increased radiation, which is proven by genetics, causes mutations. So here evolutionary changes could occur more rapidly.
Emerged species was physically weaker than the surroundings, had to survive, began to make tools, to conduct public life. All this contributed to the emergence of intelligence - a powerful tool of the weak being of nature, not having sufficient natural protection agencies.
‘Handy man’ ( ‘southern ape’) belongs to Australopithecus, whose remains were found in Africa for the first time in 1924. The volume of the brain of Australopithecus does not exceed the volume of the brain of great apes, but, apparently, it was enough to create tools.
- In 1891 on the island of Java Pithecanthropus remains were found, which was predicted by Haeckel. Creatures that lived 0.5 million years ago, had a growth of more than 150 cm, the brain volume of about 900 cm3. They have used knives, drills, chisels.
- In 1920 in China Sinanthropus (‘Chinese man’) was found and scientists notice that it was close to Pithecanthropus according to his brain volume. He used the fire and dishes, but did not have a speech yet.
- In 1856 in Germany some remains being found. They lived 150-40 thousand years ago and were called Neanderthal. He had a brain volume that is comparable with the brain of modern man, receding forehead, eyebrows, and low skull. Neanderthal man lived in caves, hunted mammoths. The Neanderthals buried deceased relatives; this fact was noted for the first time.
- In 1868 in France finally, in the cave of Cro-Magnon, the remains of creatures (called Cro-Magnon) were found. It was similar in appearance and size of the skull (1600 cm’) to modern man, having a height of 180 cm. Their age was from 40 to 15 thousand years old. This is - a reasonable person. In the same era there were racial differences. In isolated groups got special features formed - light skin, etc.
Thus, the line of human evolution is built as follows: ‘handy man’ (Australopithecus), ‘Homo erectus’ (Pithecanthropus and Peking Man), ‘Neanderthal man’, ‘a reasonable man’ (Cro-Magnon).
On the way of hominization there were many kinds of primates and Homo sapiens, but at the time of its launch was just a representative of one of several competing lines. The fact that it will be successful in the arena of evolution has not been predetermined. Emptying a bucket of sand, you can not predict which of the grains are on top. However, it is clear that any of them will take place at the top, a little higher than others. The same thing happens in the course of evolution, one of the closely related species is slightly more successful than others, but which one - it is impossible to predict in advance.
Today the majority of scientists adheres to ‘a person of African descent’ theory and believes that the winner in the evolutionary race was originated from the South East Africa about 200 thousand years ago and he was scattered all over the planet.
Once a man came out of Africa, it would seem that our distant African ancestors were like the modern inhabitants of this continent. However, some researchers believe that the first humans appeared in Africa, were closer to the Mongoloids.
Mongoloid race has a number of archaic features, in particular in the structure of the teeth, which are characteristic for Neanderthals and Homo erectus (Homo erectus). The populations of Mongoloid type have high adaptability to different environmental conditions, from arctic tundra to equatorial rainforest, whereas in black children’s bodies in high latitudes with a deficiency of vitamin D bone disease arose quickly, there was rickets, ie. They were specialized in high insolation conditions. If the first humans were similar to modern Africans, it is doubtful that they would be able to successfully carry out migration across the globe. However, this view is contested by most anthropologists.
Concept, opposed to the concept of African descent multiregional origin, suggests that our ancestral species Homo erectus evolved into Homo sapiens in different parts of the globe independently. Homo erectus emerged in Africa about 1.8 million years ago. He had made of stone tools, which were found by paleontologists, and perhaps more sophisticated tools from bamboo. However, bamboo equipment leaved no marks through millions of years. For a few hundred thousand years, Homo erectus spread first in the Middle East and then to Europe and to the Pacific Ocean.
The closest human relative had been discovered in 1856 in the town of Neadertal near Düsseldorf. The workers, who found the cave with strange skulls and large bones, thought it was the remains of a cave bear, and did not expect any heated arguments would appear. These bones, and bones found later in the north of England, in the east of Uzbekistan and southern Israel, were the remains of human ancestors, known as Neanderthal man - a primitive man who lived from 200 000 to 27 000 years ago. Neanderthal made primitive tools, painted body with ornaments, had religious ideas and funeral rituals.
It is assumed that Neanderthals evolved from Homo erectus in Europe and became extinct, unable to compete with the ones, who came from African Homo sapiens. The cause of extinction could be too high specialization - Neanderthals were adapted to life in glacial Europe. As conditions change, such specialization turned into a disaster for them.
For many years, the question of where the place of Neanderthals in the evolutionary tree should be put is discussed. Could there be interbreeding between them and Homo sapiens during their co-existence for tens of thousands of years. If the crossing was possible, then modern Europeans could have some Neanderthal genes. The answer - though not final - has been recently obtained in the study of Neanderthal DNA. Geneticist Svante Pebo is the one who studied the DNA of Egyptian mummies, extracted DNA from Neanderthal remains with age tens of thousands of years.
Despite the fact that the DNA was highly fragmented, the scientists succeeded in using the most advanced DNA analysis method - the method of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) - to establish the nucleotide sequence of a small section of mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondrial DNA was chosen for study because the cells in its molar concentration in the hundreds of times higher than the concentration of nuclear DNA.
DNA extraction was carried out under the highest sterility - scientists worked in costumes resembling space suits, to prevent accidental contamination of the samples outside, modern DNA. Under normal circumstances, with the help of researchers, using polymerase chain reaction makes it possible to ‘read’ the DNA fragments of a length up to several kilobases. In the studied samples, the maximum length of the ‘read’ fragment was approximately 20 bp.
After receiving a set of short fragments, scientists have restored them the original nucleotide sequence of mitochondrial DNA. Comparing it with the DNA of modern man it showed that they differ significantly. These data suggest that Neanderthals were a separate, though related to man kind.
Rather, the crossing of these two species was not possible - there are too large genetic differences between them. Therefore, in the gene pool of human genes he is not derived from Neanderthals. By DNA sequence divergence there was estimated time of Neanderthal and modern human branches, which amounted to 550-690 thousand years. However, the data can be regarded as preliminary, because these results of the study of only one individual.
History in our genes
The history of human evolution is written in our genes and in our methods of action. Professor from Stanford Universtiteta (USA) Luca Cavalli-Sforza has made maps of the distribution of frequencies of several hundred genes in European populations (he called these maps ‘genetic landscape’) and genetic distances between populations with the calculated date of their separation.
He could reconstruct several waves of human migration. First, it remained the most conspicuous genetic trail (frequency of occurrence of a complex of 95 genes gradually decreases from the Middle East to the place of the Basque habitat), corresponding to the expansion of the Neolithic agricultural peoples of the places of origin of agriculture (Mesopotamia region) in the north and west of Europe.
His dating was based on genetic distances coincides with the archaeological dating of 6-9 thousand years ago. Basques were a population with the unique genetic characteristics. They were representatives of the ancient inhabitants of Europe - Cro-Magnon. Probably, they have retained their genetic uniqueness, because they lived in the farthest point of the migration path, where Europe has been introduced with genes of agriculture and the Indo-European languages, Early Neolithic tribes from the Middle East.
Geneticists’ findings are confirmed by data on the linguistic uniqueness of the Basque language. The frequency of occurrence of another set of genes is greatest in the south of Europe and decreases in both the north and south of this area. This should be left to the migration of nomadic pastoralists 4-6 thousand years ago.
Changing the prevalence of the third set of the genes corresponding to the expansion of Greek culture in the I millennium BC. Not only migration leads to changes in the concentration of gene populations. For example, the frequency of occurrence of genes is associated with adaptation to cold, gradually decreases from north to south.
- In addition to the comparison of gene frequencies of occurrence in populations for the reconstruction of human history, scientists use the method of ‘molecular clock’. It is based on the fact that the rate of change in the nucleotide sequence of the DNA molecule due to point mutations (ie, changes in only one base pair) is constant so that it can be used for dating a discharge of this evolutionary branch from the common trunk. Since most of these mutations, according to modern concepts, are neutral, ie, does not have any beneficial or harmful effect on the person, they are not eliminated by selection. This ‘molecular clock’ was calibrated by comparing the rate of change of the DNA of the species, differences of time, which were firmly established by fossil remains.
- ‘Molecular clock’ helped to determine the date of the separation of humans and monkeys - from 5 to 7 million years ago. Prior to this, paleontologists have thought that the separation occurred about 25 million years ago. But now the ‘molecular’ dating is common. It is believed that the ancestors of humans and chimpanzees split about 5 million years ago, the separation of gorillas had happened before, and even earlier, about 10-15 million years ago the branch of orangutans separated too.
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