RE: Where is the “missing link”.

I gave this response to yet another creationist blog, thought you might find it interesting:
 

“No matter where I turn, I continue to
hear somebody suggest the idea of evolution.  Not even a year goes by
that we don’t hear of scientists claiming to have found the “missing
link”, which is said to connect people to apes (and always turns into a
false hope of the finder).”

The term “missing link” originated from theology, not science, and there are tons of transitional forms in human lineages that have been found. Here are just some examples. 

 

The claim that a “missing link” has never been found is as silly as the claim that a transcript of the bible older than 100 years old has never been found.  And if people kept making that claim for a century to discredit christianity, you’d start to think they were deliberately lying, no?

“So here’s my question:
If people came from apes, then why can’t people & apes reproduce together?”

Humans are apes, the term ape is synonymous with primate and does not refer to any species.  You are suggesting that we descended from a specific ape species, like gorillas or chimpanzees, when evolution has never maintained this to be true.  Speciation is a process of evolution whereby species split off and branch out into families of species.  I would explain it to you but I doubt you’d even pay attention.

“Dogs
are said to be derived from the wolf, and we know that a dog and a wolf
can reproduce and form a dog/wolf mix breed.  That’s because they are
of the same species.  So if humans and apes are of the same species,
then why can’t WE reproduce together?”

Dogs and wolves are the same species.  Their gene pools are separated by about 5,000 years and already some dog breeds can only breed together with great difficulty.  Humans are not the same species as chimpanzees or any other primate species, we did not descend from any modern species, but rather are cousins, and our lineages have been separate for closer to five million years, or about a thousand times as long.  Under the right conditions, speciation can occur in a century or two.  After 5 million years of separation there is no chance of producing viable offspring, though some species can produce infertile hybrids.  We do not know if we can hybridize with any other primate species though because such an experiment would be unethical to perform.  We do however share 95% of our DNA with chimpanzees and are by definition related to them.

“Let’s look at the theory of evolution:
Some millions of years ago, apes roamed the earth. Then one day, an ape
decided to simply stand up.  Then another, and yet another.  Soon,
these upright apes’ DNA began to change, and all were now able to stand
up, talk, write, build buildings, create weapons, their movements became
different, and they lost most of the hair on their bodies, and their
number of chromosomes changed.  So in other words, by simply standing up, this special breed of apes became taller, smarter, and weaker than the apes that remained on their knuckles and swing through trees, including incompatible in reproduction.
Now,
to throw in another loop, I’ve seen orangutans and chimps stand
straight up.  Granted the chimp wasn’t completely straight, they have
tried to be.  And the orangutans often stand straight up, sometimes even
with their arms straight up in the air.  But they’re not hunching
over.” 

This has nothing to do with evolution, it is an inaccurate parody of evolution obnoxious religious people tell themselves so they can feel intellectually superior.  Literally nothing you just said has any basis in science.

“So if the theory of evolution is real, then why are they still apes?”

For the same reason we are still apes, and we are still mammals, and quadrupeds and craniates and eukaryotes.  You do not understand what these terms mean and that is the source of your confusion.  If you are suggesting that other primate species have not been evolving, that is not the case at all.  If they hadn’t been they would have been extinct long ago.  Evolution is a process of trial and error by which species adapt to their environment, not a b-line to being like us.  When religious fundamentalists make these “why aren’t chimpanzees human yet” types of arguments they are basically declaring to the world that they don’t know the first thing about how evolution works.  It would be like me accusingly saying “if jesus was so great, how’d he get killed then, HUH!!?  I would be betraying a near total ignorance of the bible, would I not?

“The
fact is that unless you’re talking about the Science Fiction movie
“Planet of the Apes”, humans and apes cannot reproduce together.” 

Dude, humans and non-humans couldn’t reproduce in that movie either.  Unless they went to a weird place with the re-make.  And you’re mis-using the term “ape” which does not refer to any one species, but a group of species which includes humans.

“So if
we’re naturally incompatible for reproduction, then we can’t be of the
same species.”

By definition.

“And if we’re not of the same species, then humans cannot
have come from apes, and the evolution theory of humans is void.  But
then, we all already knew that.”

We didn’t descend from modern primates any more than we descended from modern europeans.  Asking “if we came from apes why are there still apes” is like asking “if we came from europe, why are there still europeans”.  It assumes that either we descended from our modern peers which is ridiculous, or that europeans or other ape species have been frozen in time, which is not the case.

Or it betrays ignorance of the process of speciation, which occurs when two lineages split apart, usually due to environmental pressures or geological distance or barriers separating them, and become genetically incompatable, ie two similar species.  Then without being able to exchange DNA there is no mechanism keeping them similar.

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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12 Responses to RE: Where is the “missing link”.

  1. YouToMe says:

    Not too rare or overcooked, but well done :)”such an experiment would be unethical” hahah good point. Maybe we should ask for volunteers.

  2. jenessa1889 says:

    ok dude clearly has no understanding of evolution.   he’s saying apes stood up and then their DNA changed when by definition the DNA change to make the ape bipedal has to come first.when a person knows nothing about a theory their “debunking” cannot be taken seriously

  3. striemmy says:

    They did make a valid point there. Why was less hair, a larger forehead, a smaller jaw and the ability to stand upright only useful to a few species of hominids early on in our evolution? Why wouldn’t that be of use, in the 5 million years since, to any other species of ape?But yes, he’s an idiot. 

  4. agnophilo says:

    @JulieDeer – : PThe man-chimp hybrid baby that would come from the experiment cannot volunteer.  It’s not so much the monkey-molestation that’s the ethical dilemma.  @jenessa1889 – I agree.@striemmy – It wasn’t.  Chimpanzees are not our closest relatives, they are just our closest relatives that are not extinct.  There are many extinct hominid species that were much more human-like than other modern primate species.  Our closest relatives are neanderthals.  And less hair, bipedalism, increased brain cavity etc are hardly unique in the animal kingdom. 

  5. @striemmy – Why was less hair, a larger forehead, a smaller jaw and the ability to stand upright only useful to a few species of hominids early on in our evolution?Because evolutionary events are very rare.For a new trait to be fixed in a population, a number of things must first occur:(1) Mutation(s) must involve that specific gene in that specific way. Kinda rare for a repeat. It’s like, during the course of your life, having the same traffic accident the same way on the same intersection.(2) This mutation must have occured either in sperm-making or egg-making stem cells so that the organism can make babies to pass on the trait.(3) In order for that trait to be fixed in the population, there must be a selective pressure.For instance, if I were a girl during the renaissance, and my mutation made me extra-fat, society would deem me hot, I’d make lots of babies and my fat genes would be passed on.If I were born in the 90’s with the same mutation, that fat allele would die with me.————–On this subject: Years back, I read some facinating Stephen Jay Gould articles on human evolution. He speculated that the critical mutation towards human evolution were those that helped retard primate adolescence.Gould checked off and mached adult human traits with baby chimp traits. Parts of this wiki article touches a bit on the idea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neotony

  6. agnophilo says:

    @Celestial_Teapot – You’re right about much of this but wrong about the first bit, the odds of an individual person suffering the same mutation in the same place are about the odds of having the same car accident in the same intersection twice, but the odds of the same mutation happening in a large population are comparable to two people in similar cars getting into the same accident in the same intersection.  Give it enough time and enough people using that intersection and it will eventually happen.

  7. @agnophilo – Hmm, I suppose a major consideration of this would be the sort of mutation. Single-nucleotide substitutions are more common an error than replication slippage.

  8. striemmy says:

    @Celestial_Teapot – Thanks for the illumination.

  9. striemmy says:

    @agnophilo – I meant in the sense that it only served as an evolutionary advantage to the species that eventually became humans. The full package of those traits hasn’t survived beyond neanderthals. 

  10. agnophilo says:

    @Celestial_Teapot – Still, if it’s a 1 in 5 billion chance all that is required is one generation with a population of 5 billion, two generations with a population of 2.5 billion etc.@striemmy – Well over 99% of the species that have ever lived are extinct.  That a species eventually dies out or branches off to something new doesn’t mean adaptations are not useful, but rather that they are a perpetual part of life in a perpetually changing environment.  What is useful to a species and helps ensure it’s survival today may be a detriment tomorrow.

  11. alampi says:

    So where’s the missing link between whatever (non hominoid) and humans?

  12. agnophilo says:

    @alampi – There’s no such thing.  If you mean hominid (human ancestor) species that shares characteristics of more than one group of primate, known hominids go back to cat-like primates.  Here’s some, feel free to peruse.  But there is no one “missing link”, there never was.  That is a religious term referring to the theology of ranking species according to how holy and god-like they are.  

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