Monkey business


December 19, 2007
92 Views

 When asked their opinion about human evolution, some people will answer: “I cannot accept that we came from monkeys.”

We should all agree with that sentiment. Humans are no monkeys. But we are part of the Primate Order.

In an earlier blog  I wrote about Carl von Linné to  and his way of classifying plants and animals using observable traits.

Under the Linnaean system, human beings belong to the Primate Order. Within this Order, there are two sub-units, referred to as suborders: the Prosimians and the Anthropoids.

Fans of the movie Madagascar ought to be very familiar with Prosimians, a family that includes lemurs and lorises.

Anthropoids include New World monkeys (such as marmosets, tamarins, capuchin monkeys, howler  and spider monkeys) as well as Old World monkeys, apes and humans (such as baboons, colobuses, gibbons, siamangs, orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and humans).

All of the animals just mentioned are still with us. Each one of these is subject to evolutionary pressures and some (like us humans) are flourishing and others (like chimps and gorillas) face ever-diminishing natural habitats.

But this all relates to the present. How does it apply to the past?

Together with gibbons, siamangs, orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos, humans are members of the Superfamily of Hominoidea (a.k.a. apes and humans). The classification of humans and apes into this Superfamily reflects a common ancestor in a distant past.

Moreover, recent DNA studies comparing human genetic information with that of other non-human primates has shown a high degree of genetic similarity. For example, DNA from a modern human is close to 99% identical to that of contemporary chimpanzees. This further supports descent from a common ancestor.

Next time you hear a remark about humans evolving from monkeys, you can set the record straight: one species did not come from the other. Humans and apes simply share a common ancestor.

No monkey business required.


Dirk
Authored By Dirk Van Tuerenhout

As curator of anthropology, Dirk is responsible for the museum’s artifact collection and is involved in its temporary and permanent anthropology exhibits. Dirk is an expert in human cultures; he curates the Museum’s Hall of the Americas and specializes in native American cultures like the Aztec and Maya.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Become An HMNS Member

With a membership level for everyone; Don't just read about it, see it.

View All Membership Levels

Editor's Picks April Educator How-To: Make a Roman Mosaic What’s The Splatter? The Science Behind Bug Guts on your Windshield. 5 Of The Rarest Objects On Display At HMNS Questions From A Perceptive Third Grader New Special Exhibition at HMNS – Vanishing Arts: Highlights from the Beasley-Hwang Collection Your Spring Break Guide for a Fossil-filled Visit to HMNS
Follow And Subscribe

Equally Interesting Posts




HMNS at Hermann Park

5555 Hermann Park Dr.
Houston,Texas 77030
(713) 639-4629


Get Directions Offering varies by location
HMNS at Sugar Land

13016 University Blvd.
Sugar Land, Texas 77479
(281) 313-2277


Get Directions Offering varies by location
George Observatory

21901 FM 762 Rd.
Needville, Texas 77461
(281) 242-3055

Hours
Tuesday - Saturday By Reservation
Saturdays 3:00PM - 10:00PM
Saturdays (DST) 3:00PM - 11:00PM
DST = Daylight Savings Time.
Please call for holiday hours. Entry to Brazos Bend State Park ends at 9:30 p.m. daily
Get Directions Offering varies by location

Stay in the know. Join our mailing list.