Did humans evolve from monkeys?

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Answered by: William, An Expert in the Evolution and Creationism Category
"Did humans evolve from monkeys?" Humans did not evolve from monkeys, nor did they evolve from chimpanzees or any other type of primate extant today. Animals alive today are not the same animals that existed when humans were first appearing in the fossil record. The ancestors of what one would call a monkey today would not have not looked very monkey-like 30 million years ago; more importantly, not only wouldn't it look very much like a monkey, but it *wasn't* a monkey.

All animals are in a constant process of change, and each generation of animals is slightly different than the previous generation. Since humans are visual beings, it's important for most to be able to visualize in order to conceptualize. Since we know that humans and monkeys are related, many deduce that because humans and monkeys are related, and since we are not monkeys and we must have had come from somewhere, that logically we came from monkeys. A key concept to understand is that present-day monkeys are just as new to the Earth as you are. They did not 'come first' and we did not 'come after them'. They are in their own process of evolution just as every other animal and organism is, from chimpanzees and gorillas, to crocodilians, snakes, and bacteria and viruses.

All primates alive today evolved from arboreal mammals that looked something like present-day lemurs (though they were not lemurs). As millennia passed genetic changes occurred, both detrimental changes that could, and possibly did, kill the animal (e.g. cancers), and beneficial changes that improved the animal (e.g. fifth digit becoming opposable). Not all genetic changes are passed on to the next generation. In order to be passed on, the change must be 'recorded' in one of the reproductive cells; only then is the mutation hereditary, and even then the mutation may not be expressed unless the correct conditions are met. In order for the mutation to be beneficial, it must improve the animal to its environment. A mutation that suddenly replaces lungs with gills in a land animal would spell certain death for that animal; though not an inherently detrimental mutation in itself, in the environment the land animal lives in it would have been.

As the genetic changes accrued the animals began to change. Eyes began to move from the side of the head to the front of the head. Those animals who's offspring's eyes were not positioned in front of the head could not survive as easily and died out. Craniums were becoming larger. Those animals that had smaller brains could not survive as easily and died out. Many different evolutionary paths, many different family trees, were forming. Some animals became larger. Some became smaller. The animals that remained small tended to live in trees more than on land because their weight allowed them the luxury. The animals that grew larger tended to live more on land than in the trees, because living in the trees was more physically strenuous, and because living on land offered resources that the trees did not provide. Eventually, those animals that lived on land learned, due partially to an ever larger evolving brain, that objects in nature could be used and manipulated to affect other objects in nature, and the first artificial tools came to being.

"Did humans evolve from monkeys?" Just as humans did not evolve from monkeys, they did not evolve from chimpanzees either. Both humans and chimpanzees are evolving from a common ancestor, which itself evolved from one branch of the many branches of the family of now extinct arboreal mammals that looked something like present-day lemurs (though, again, they were not lemurs). Evolutionists and anthropologists are still learning facts and uncovering fossils of human ancestors, and eventually we may have a mostly complete fossil record showing our evolution from the first mammals that survived after the extinction 65 million years ago to us now in the present day.

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