Myth vs Reality: Who are “Humans” and their ancestors? Where, when and how did they originate? Part 1: Tiny cuddly monkeys to killer chimpanzees. They are all connected, but in strange ways!
Dr Frank-n-Furter, theists and ‘progressive’ evolutionary orthogeneticists dwell with the ‘Mythers’.
‘Man’ was not ‘made’ in a week in a laboratory. Adam and Eve were not created spontaneously on the 6th day of ‘Creation’ in the Garden of Eden. The Garden was not near the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers – currently in modern Iraq. It was not at Göbekli Tepe in the south-eastern Anatolia Region of Turkey around 570,000 weeks or 4 million days ago (ca 9000 BCE). Noah – a descendant Adam and Eve who lived to the age of 960 – did not use a massive Ark to save all animals from extinction after a great Flood that occurred near Eden 4,359 years ago. He and his family of eight did not repopulate Earth. His three sons – Shem, Japhet and Ham – were not the progenitors of the Semites (sunburnt brown Jews and Arabs who inherited the Promised Land and produced Jesus and Mohammed), Europeans (civilized white intellectuals) and black Africans. Ham’s humiliation of a drunk and naked Noah did not result in his curse on Canaan – Ham’s son, who was a product of incest between Ham and Noah’s wife. Canaan’s status does not explain, let alone justify, enslaving descendants of his son – Cush – who migrated to sub-Sahara Africa and acquired black skin and a “nature ruled by base appetites”.
In 1859 (8,447 weeks ago), Charles Darwin did correctly infer the African location of the ‘Garden’ and that – eons ago – humans evolved from gorilla-chimp-like primates.
Humans sensu stricto are Great Apes (Hominidae – hominids); members of the mammalian Order Primates . They differ markedly from their chimp-like ancestors.
|23 pairs of chromosomes||24|
|Several blood types: O ca 45%; A ca 40%; B ca 10%; AB <5%||Most Common Chimpanzees blood type A and minimal O but never B or AB|
|Bonobo only type A|
|Profusion of eccrine sweat glands on the surface of the body||Far fewer and less well-functioning glands|
|Large brain (ca 1200 cc)||Small-brain (ca 280–400 cc)|
|Sexually-size-monomorphic||Males much larger than females|
|‘Gracile’ skeleton with short arms||More robust with long arms|
|Strong-gripped, dextrous hands suited for manufacture and use of tools and weapons||Better suited for arboreal and quadrupedal locomotion|
|Relatively long opposable thumbs on hands only||Thumbs on all fours adapted for arboreal locomotion|
|Tall (ca 1.8 m)||Short (ca 1.2-1.4 m)|
|Symmetrical rounded braincase||Non-spherical flattened braincasel|
|Supra-orbital brow area without ridge||Supra-orbit with a continuous massive ‘ridge’|
|Flat-faced but large-nosed||Prominent snout without a distinct ‘nose’|
|Small jaw||Heavy jaw|
|Small teeth||Large (especially canines, molars and premolars)|
|Thinly-enamelled teeth||Heavily enamelled|
|Prominent chin||No chin|
|Localized pelage||Widespread body fur|
|Sentient and cognitive – complex language||More stereotyped – simple vocal communication|
|Female is intermittently fertile year round with no special signals of fertility||Seasonally fertile with signaling|
|Very narrow birth canals||Much broader|
|Lengthened ontogeny, gestation and infancy||More precocial|
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Primates in the ‘Beginning’
Humans are one of perhaps as many as 448 species of Primate eutherian mammals. They were named Homo sapiens – “Man the wise” – by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. According to Linnaeus and other 18th Century ‘real’ and ‘sane’ biological scientists, Primates form the “highest” taxonomic Order of mammals and, by the latter 19th Century, were accepted as an evolutionary lineage rooted on a common ancestor. About 70 million years ago (Mya) during the late Cretaceous, that common ancestor – a small, habitat-labile, terrestrial creature – was evolutionarily ‘conceived’ in the northern mega-continent Laurasia. Basal anthropoid ‘Higher Primates’ were widespread within ‘island’ Africa by the early Palaeocene ca 65 Mya. Subsequently, primates diversified rapidly within Africa, adapting to living in the trees of widespread tropical forests which, at that time, straddled Africa between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer. At ca 60 Mya, a lineage leading to anthropoid monkeys and apes sensu lato (Simiiformes) emerged. At ca 45 Mya, these anthropoids split into the Afro-Asian catarrhine Old World monkey/ape lineage (Catarrhini) and the Central-South American monkeys (Platyrrhini) when founding platyrrhines dispersed to the New World and diversified within the Americas. Unlike most Old World monkeys and apes, many New World monkeys are monogamous, show substantial paternal care of young and lack opposable thumbs. Uniquely among primates, they subsequently evolved further arboreal specializations (e.g. prehensile tails often with a bare tactile pad).
Back in a mega-climactic ‘drying’ Africa, the widespread tropical forest began to break up into island-like ‘refugia’ and ‘tendrils’ of riverine forest surrounded by a ‘sea’ of savanna and grassland. Catarrhine anthropoids radiated further in these refugia and some ventured out of the forest into savanna woodland. In eastern Africa, the oldest African fossil higher anthropoids (Proconsul spp. ca 28-15 Mya) had a mixture of monkey and ape characteristics. They were quadrupedal, were 1.1-1.3 m tall and weighed ca 30-50 kg. However, unlike monkeys – and like apes – they lacked a tail, and their forelimb anatomy suggests that they were not as arboreal as monkeys and had more dexterous hands with enhanced grasping capabilities and a stabilized elbow joint.
To find out where, when and how African apes originated and started killing and eating one another and got naked have a look at Part 2.