Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why Are Chimps Still Chimps?

The American Biology Teacher published an issue dedicated to evolution back in February 2012. I got a chance to see this issue when I was in Ottawa for a big evolution meeting last July but it's taken me this long to blog about it.

One of the most impressive articles is Why Are Chimps Still Chimps" (Johnson et al. 2012). It answers the most common questions from students about human evolution and the evolution of our closest cousin, the chimpanzee.

You will learn about the difference between anagenesis and cladogenesis and why our common ancestor might have looked more like a modern chimpanzee than a modern human.

Johnson et al. are addressing teachers and they know it's important to directly refute students' misconceptions in class. They do a good job of pointing out those misconceptions.

Here's the conclusion of their paper.
If humans evolved from chimps, why are there still chimps? The two major misconceptions this question reflects are that evolution is (1) always linear and (2) innately progressive. The common depiction of evolution as a linear progression throughout which ape-like creatures become more like modern humans is a gross simplification (see Gould, 1989, for further discussion of the iconography). Along these lines, we encourage educators to find images of human and ape family trees in which the human–chimp common ancestor is depicted as an illustration, rather than those that use photographs of chimps to represent this common ancestor – reinforcing the very misconception we are trying to avoid. As we discussed, much of evolution results in a pattern known as cladogenesis; this involves processes that have given rise to the tree-like pattern of the diversity of life. Moreover, evolution does not necessarily equate to progress, as change is not always progressive (Ruse, 1996). It is incorrect to speak of living organisms as more (or less) evolved than other living organisms. Chimps are just as evolved as humans. The lineages leading to chimps and humans split from one another some 6 million years ago; since then, each has taken its own path.
This is an example of the misconception that we need to refute ...



Johnson, N.A., Smith, J.J., Pobiner, B. and Schrein, C. (2012) Why Are Chimps Still Chimps? The American Biology Teacher 74:74-80. [DOI: 10.1525/abt.2012.74.2.3]

17 comments :

  1. I think you have an error in there where you write "It answers the most common questions from students about human evolution and our common ancestor, the chimpanzee."
    Since your post is about why chimps are not our ancestors.

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  2. Do you have a copy of the PDF? It's behind a pay-wall.

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    1. Did you try clicking on "PDF" and agreeing to the terms? It worked for me.

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    2. Maybe if you try the journal's web site: http://www.bioone.org/loi/ambt

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  3. "It is incorrect to speak of living organisms as more (or less) evolved than other living organism"

    Oh. This misconception again...

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  4. Phylogenetic trees are very useful in this regard - they provide a nice mental image and are easily understood as a sort of family tree.

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  5. Do they allow a creationist criticism and assertion? Otherwise misconceptions being fixed in kid's minds is just intellectually unbalanced.
    The kid's know this and suspicion kicks in.

    Its a good point why apes hit these mysterious walls that kept them apes.
    What's the hold up?

    It's just a hunch off the hip to see ape/man likeness as indicative of like origin.
    In reality it could only be that people, made by a God, would have the best body on earth to be comfortable in.
    We could only fit into the equation of all nature.
    Nature is very alike in body plan.
    We are not of nature but must be in nature and so what other kind of bode would suit better?
    evolutionists or anyone should not persuade themselves we are apes cousins because of likeness of body.
    Even if true it still is JUST a line of reasoning.
    i say this hunch really is what persuades evolutionists and not independent data.

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    1. "Its a good point why apes hit these mysterious walls that kept them apes.
      What's the hold up?"

      None. Humans are also apes. Maybe you should brush up on your systematics.

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    2. @Robert Byers

      The kid's (sic) know this and suspicion kicks in.

      Yes Robert, the kids do indeed know religious based dogma for the steaming pile of shit that it is and no matter how much you and your ilk try to indoctrinate them, they are leaving your death cult in droves.

      Do continue to rant and rave, trying to impose your bronze age morality of misogyny, homophobia and xenophobia on secular society, it is exactly this sort of behaviour that is driving the kids away from organized religion.

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    3. Do they allow a creationist criticism and assertion?

      No more than they allow people who insist the sun orbits the earth to do criticism and assertion regarding what's taught in astronomy classes.

      Or allow those who insist all infinities must be of equal size to hold forth against Cantor's diagonal argument in mathematics classes.

      Or those who insist the Earth is hollow to argue their positions in geology classes.

      Are you catching a pattern here? On one side there are teachers trying to impart knowledge that's been well proved for a century or more, and students trying sincerely to learn it. On the other are a bunch of nuts who are the victims of fixed ideas that lack any scientific support, who want to interrupt others' educational opportunities (opportunities for which they and/or their parents likely have paid quite a bit, out of pocket and/or in taxes). What gives you or any other nut case the privilege of preventing them from fulfilling that opportunity?

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  6. byers said:

    "Its a good point why apes hit these mysterious walls that kept them apes.
    What's the hold up?"

    What should they be instead of apes? Frogs?

    Why have humans hit these mysterious walls that have kept them humans? Shouldn't humans be immortal, translucent clouds of infinite energy and intelligence by now? What's the hold up?

    You really don't get it robert. All other apes are just as 'evolved' as humans are. You obviously think that if evolution is 'true', every life form would evolve to become human, and since every life form hasn't evolved to become human, evolution must not be 'true'. I know that you'll ignore this but evolution doesn't have a 'goal' of everything becoming human.

    And speaking of "independent data", let's see your independent data that supports your YEC beliefs.





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    1. I understand the evolutionary claims.
      Yet we are here in our glory and apes ain't.
      Not even close. almost as if they are no smarter then pigs!
      What's the hold up!

      Here is a creature said to be cousin but acts just like any animal.
      Changing its environment never would start it on its way to thinking like us.

      It still is all saying we are related cause we look alike.
      Yet it could only be this way if Adam/Eve were true.
      We just got the best body type for having fun and progress.
      it's not evidence of relationship.
      That's just a hunch.

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    2. "I understand the evolutionary claims."

      No, you don't "understand" the claims, as is patently clear from your post.

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    3. byers belched:

      "I understand the evolutionary claims."

      LOL

      "Yet we are here in our glory and apes ain't.
      Not even close. almost as if they are no smarter then pigs!
      What's the hold up!"

      Our "glory"? Is that a YEC 'scientific' term?

      Do you remember writing this mess robert?

      "Robert Byers October 15, 2012 at 4:48 pm
      F0r the rec0rd YEC be1ieves in a bibica1 f100d.
      S a creatures m0ved t0 their h0mes frm a singe starting pace.
      S it cud ny be that is1ands were c010nized by migrat0ns and n0t specia1 creati0ns.
      I sh0udnt have t0 say this but Darwin and 0thers seem t0 think they make a g00d case because its n0t a g00d case t0 have critters n i1sands 0ut 0f n0where!"

      Now, what were you saying about how smart pigs and apes (other than humans) are?

      "Here is a creature said to be cousin but acts just like any animal."

      Yeah, and of course humans don't act "just like any other animal". Humans don't reproduce sexually, don't kill other animals or each other, and don't spit, slobber, eat, drink, shit, piss, fart, burp, cough, sneeze, yawn, sleep, swim, show off, walk, crawl, climb, scratch, sniff, compete, cooperate, fight, play, hunt, mark and/or protect territory, protect their young or other adults, construct homes or take the homes of others, modify their environment, stash food, adorn themselves with protective or attractive things, fear things they don't understand, or anything else that animals do. Yeah robert, humans are nothing like animals. Humans are 'exceptional' and 'special'. Tell me robert, since humans are allegedly 'specially created in the image of god', does that mean that god farts and burps and has bad breath and warts?

      "Changing its environment never would start it on its way to thinking like us."

      If you ever figure out what "thinking" is, let me know.

      "It still is all saying we are related cause we look alike."

      You've been told numerous times that there's a LOT more to it than that. Your chronic willful ignorance and air of superiority is irritating.

      "Yet it could only be this way if Adam/Eve were true."

      adam and eve is a fairy tale.

      "We just got the best body type for having fun and progress."

      LMAO! The best body type? Hey robert, let's see you outrun a cheetah or a pronghorn, or out fly a hummingbird or a dragonfly, or out jump a grasshopper, or out swim a fish or a whale or a polar bear, or carry as much weight as an elephant, or climb and swing through trees as well as a monkey, or fight a chimp or a gorilla with your bare hands, or change your shape or colors as well as an octopus. And while you're at it, let's see you have more "fun" with your body type than otters have with theirs.

      "it's not evidence of relationship.
      That's just a hunch."

      Shouldn't you be on a street corner somewhere shouting creationist crap at passersby?

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  7. I contend that "progressive" is a poor term. The whole notion that evolution equates to progress is at the core of the worst misunderstandings. "Progress" has entirely too much entirely wrong of misleading baggage and I contend it should never be used in teaching. The notion of our species being at a pinnacle of evolution feeds the kind of foolishness exhibited by Byers above.

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  8. According to Evolution the planet began with simple molecules and now we have a specie which can speak,think ,build airplanes and etc..

    If it´s not to go from simple to complex then I don´t know what it is

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