We un­ravel some com­mon mis­con­cep­tions about the nat­u­ral world



Al­though there are sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween hu­mans and chim­panzees, such as op­pos­able thumbs and fa­cial fea­tures, but chimps didn’t just shed their fur and start mak­ing fires. We are, how­ever, ge­net­i­cally re­lated to chimps through our com­mon ancestors, along with other great apes like go­ril­las and bono­bos.

The first sign of pri­mates on Earth dates back to around 55 mil­lion years ago (MYA). Then, from a com­mon an­ces­tor, chimps and hu­mans split into two dis­tinct ge­netic time­lines be­tween 8–6 MYA, al­though a more re­cent study sug­gests that di­ver­gence may have oc­curred up to 13 MYA. Our pri­mate cousins con­tin­ued to evolve into the apes we see to­day, whereas oth­ers evolved into the group known as Ho­minini, of which we are the only sur­viv­ing species. Chim­panzees re­mained in the group Homi­noidea, which di­vides over 20 species be­tween great apes such as orang­utans and lesser apes such as gib­bons.

It was around 5.8 MYA that one of our pro­posed ancestors — Or­rorin tu­ge­nen­sis — walked on two legs, de­spite closely re­sem­bling a chim­panzee. About 4 MYA, our pre­his­toric species de­vel­oped a brain more rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Homo sapi­ens we are to­day — these more ad­vanced ancestors were Aus­tralo­p­ithe­cus afaren­sis. Our use of tools dates back some 2.6 MYA, reg­u­larly used by Homo ha­bilis and Homo erec­tus, who around 1.8 MYA, was the first to stand up straight.

Though we started our evo­lu­tion­ary jour­ney to­gether, chimps and hu­mans evolved along­side one another rather than us de­scend­ing from them.

“Chimps and hu­mans evolved along­side one another, rather than us de­scend­ing from them”

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