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← RDF TV - Nebraska Vignettes #2 - Why are there still Chimpanzees?

RDF TV - Nebraska Vignettes #2 - Why are there still Chimpanzees? - Comments

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 2 by Ignorant Amos

another excellent piece

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 11:23:00 UTC | #379360

vega's Avatar Comment 1 by vega

So images such as this are contributing to the misunderstanding? Any new image ideas?

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 11:23:00 UTC | #379359

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 3 by Steve Zara

That was excellent. I loved the mention of humans as just another African Ape, which, of course, we are.

I think the "why are there still chimpanzees" question has another meaning than the assumption that we evolved from chimps. I think that other meaning is "why are there still apes which are different from us, and apparently more primitive - why didn't all of our ancestors take the evolutionary path to humanity?"

I think the answer to this question can be shown by talking about human migrations. There are still Europeans even though some sailed across the Atlantic to the Americas. Circumstances aren't the same for all members of a population, so not all head in the same direction. Not that Europeans are more primitive, of course...

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 11:43:00 UTC | #379368

hinterstella's Avatar Comment 4 by hinterstella

I agree we should let go of the antiquated evolution "icon." I for one would like to see more "Tree of Life" examples. I have to say the "Why are there still chimps?" question is by far the most common misconception. Great job on the recent videos!

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 11:47:00 UTC | #379372

ods15's Avatar Comment 5 by ods15

@vega

I saw a t shirt with that picture, with the last guy turning around, yelling,

STOP FOLLOWING ME!!

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 11:50:00 UTC | #379373

blitz442's Avatar Comment 6 by blitz442

3. Comment #396753 by Steve Zara

I often thought that the splintering of the English language is a good analogy for this. The American, Canadien, Australian, and New Zealand dialects all "evolved" from British English, yet we still have British English.

Also useful for explaining different rates of change in populations, and to clearly explain how dumb statements like "show me a half crocodile half duck" really are (it would be like asking for a half American half New Zealand dialect).

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 11:50:00 UTC | #379374

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 7 by robotaholic

Yes, and this was excellent and very needed and it was produced with such clarity- Thanks so much!

But-

Why do humans look so different than the rest of the African Apes? Is it just that my pattern recognition virtual machines in my brain are biased to discriminate my own species better- or can you see as it appears to me- that humans are fundamentally different than the rest?

Why are we so different? (if you agree that we are) It surely is weird-

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 11:52:00 UTC | #379375

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 8 by Steve Zara

Comment #396759 by blitz442

Yes. Language evolution is a very good analogy, I think.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 11:54:00 UTC | #379376

phatbat's Avatar Comment 9 by phatbat

3. Comment #396753 by Steve Zara

Good point Steve.

I am also thinking that maybe this could be a good example as to why beings like us are not inevitable. It could so easily have just been apes like chimps all the way through.

Up till now anyway. The future is a different matter.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:04:00 UTC | #379377

hybridization's Avatar Comment 11 by hybridization

robotaholic: Have you ever seen a baby chimp or bonobo? The similarity to a baby human is striking; the shape of the skull is most noticeable. If you compare them side by side, baby apes (of any species) actually look more like each other than their adult counterparts.

Additionally, I've found that the more you look at them, the more you learn about them, the more skeletons you see, the fewer differences you see. Check out this photo: http://www.dlwaldron.com/bonobot.jpg.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:05:00 UTC | #379379

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 10 by mordacious1

Another great video.

I like that the museums that have replicated this display are in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan and Minnesota...along with Nebraska. Strategic positioning I must say. Time to get one up in Alaska (or do they not have museums there).

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:05:00 UTC | #379378

hybridization's Avatar Comment 12 by hybridization

Ooops, link doesn't work. Here's the original page, with many more photos: http://www.dlwaldron.com/bonobos.html

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:06:00 UTC | #379381

PoliticallyConcerned's Avatar Comment 13 by PoliticallyConcerned

I am very much enjoying these RDF TV segments - very entertaining and great for understanding and helping others to understand.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:08:00 UTC | #379382

blitz442's Avatar Comment 14 by blitz442

8. Comment #396761 by Steve Zara

Do you know of any other short, sharp explanations or analogies to clear up misunderstandings on evolution. Also what do you think are the greatest misunderstandings.
For me, it was the role of chance, common ancestry, and why some (maybe most) species seem to change very little over time.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:09:00 UTC | #379383

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 15 by phasmagigas

robotaholic

Why do humans look so different than the rest of the African Apes£ Is it just that my pattern recognition virtual machines in my brain are biased to discriminate my own species better- or can you see as it appears to me- that humans are fundamentally different than the rest£


ive often thought along similar lines.

im sure we are bias towards our own species as being unique, our facial recognition ability is seeminly less accomplished outside of ones own race (however that works) and so it must be especially weak at seeing the differences between other similar species. To our eyes chimps and gorillas may seem more alike than a chimp to a human but pehaps that is not the case at all if one were to compare measurements.

I suspect however that humans have evolved further from the ancestral state than chimps/gorillas have, our bipedalism, rather skinny frame which seems rather weakly muscled (if untrained)compared to chimps/gorillas our strange looking face and big head, our baldness, we could possibly be hideous to a chimp.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:18:00 UTC | #379386

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 16 by Steve Zara

Comment #396768 by blitz442

One thing does come to mind.

The "crocoduck" objection to evolution is like denying that there was a past migration across the Atlantic because there aren't people now sitting on an island somewhere South of Greenland called Atlantis.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:20:00 UTC | #379387

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 17 by phasmagigas

steve

The "crocoduck" objection to evolution is like denying that there was a past migration across the Atlantic because there aren't people now sitting on an island somewhere South of Greenland called Atlantis


what amazes me is the fact that some people will hear about the crocoduck (or lack of)and be uttely unable to see their preposterous position, its like creationists ALLOW themselves to be stupid in public to further their religious ideas.

Evolution seems to make the religious layperson feel they are an expert in biology, when in reality they are demonstrating exactly what they dont know but fail to see the weakness of their position.

strange.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:28:00 UTC | #379391

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 18 by Rob Schneider

RE: 14: The most common misunderstandings?

1. Evolution is a process that happens to an individual line of inheritance... when in fact, evolutionary pressures affect populations.

Take height as an example. In the human population there a range of heights. The entire population is trending taller. However, if there were some pressure applied that made it advantageous to be short, tall individuals wouldn't start birthing "evolved" short kids. The tall folk would die off, moving the bell-curve toward shortness as those who can survive in the new environment reproduce and survive more.

2. Evolution has intent... or rather, that individuals recognize an evolutionary pressure and start intentionally evolving traits to deal with it. This is mostly a problem of semantics in the popular media. The example that sticks in my mind was the discussion on this site about fish that survived in cloudy, muddy ponds suddenly having to deal with clear water. The author wrote in a way that sounded like the fish got together and took a vote on how they were going to survive in the new conditions, and then just went out and evolved themselves some new traits.

3. Evolution is "predictive" or directed toward a goal.

4. That evolution "ends." Seen recently in all the questions about whether or not humans have stopped evolving. This falls in with "Has science discovered everything there is to know?"

Both questions betray a lack of understanding of science and evolution.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:29:00 UTC | #379392

cmgrote's Avatar Comment 19 by cmgrote

I liked the clarity of the message in the clip as well, and I do understand that we're targeting a very short and straightforward explanation.

However, in the interest of constructive criticism, this could look very similar to pointing at a book and using that as the explanation (e.g. pointing at a picture and using that as the explanation). The clip doesn't really give a scientific explanation for the common ancestry -- just a picture of a hierarchy and assertions about the past (no?)

Personally I'd be excited if there were some links to "more information" / "deeper explanation" so that once the short clip gets people's attention, they can then watch a longer clip which gives a more in-depth explanation of the underlying reasoning for the common ancestry. For instance, I find myself asking "Interesting: how do we know there was a common ancestor so many years ago?" But I don't know where to go from here to easily find an answer... (And this linking to successive detail could naturally carry on several levels, likely ultimately ending up at some references to books / scientific journals, depending on just how deep people want to go...)

I'll be the first to admit: I don't fully understand the science involved in determining common ancestry. I can guess: skeletal commonalities, genetic similarities, etc, but I wouldn't have the information to back it up and make a seamless logical deduction. Would be great if I could trace to that kind of reference material, though, straight from these clips =)

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:31:00 UTC | #379393

HarlanEllisonFan's Avatar Comment 20 by HarlanEllisonFan

I think these creationists actually think that individual chimps TURNED INTO humans within their own lifetimes!

I love these clips, but wouldn't mind if they were just a bit longer...

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:34:00 UTC | #379394

blitz442's Avatar Comment 21 by blitz442

16. Comment #396772 by Steve Zara

Not bad

The development of the automobile might be a useful one for many reasons. Appx 100 years ago we had an unoccupied niche (fast and mobile mechanical vehicles that were not trains), which, after some key, stepwise modifications to an existing carriage, elicited some rapid change and diversification. Although cars of today are far superior to those of the 1930s, many of the key features still remain (internal combustion engine, four wheels usually, rubber tires, etc). Also, the sophisticated level of today's cars makes for very high barriers to entry (useful for explaining why you don't see fish evolving into amphibians today, it would be like a Model-T trying to compete with a Honda Accord).

The analogy is not super-tight but I think useful nonetheless.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:37:00 UTC | #379397

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 22 by phasmagigas

cmgrote

I'll be the first to admit: I don't fully understand the science involved in determining common ancestry. I can guess: skeletal commonalities, genetic similarities, etc, but I wouldn't have the information to back it up and make a seamless logical deduction. Would be great if I could trace to that kind of reference material, though, straight from these clips =)


thats a fair point you make.

what most people have to assume is that the corroboration of evidence and its expert evaluation have to be trusted at somepoint to be reasonable. creatonists work on the assumption that the experts are liars/evil atheists, whatever. the paper trail you mention is of course available in books, then research publications etc.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:42:00 UTC | #379399

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 23 by phasmagigas

blitz442

(useful for explaining why you don't see fish evolving into amphibians today, it would be like a Model-T trying to compete with a Honda Accord).


there are still living forms that are potentially teetering on the edge of a new mode of life who currently are succcessful in their 'transitional' existence, eg mudskipper fish, aquatic spiders who still need a diving bell, gliding mammals, seals etc.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:46:00 UTC | #379400

blitz442's Avatar Comment 24 by blitz442

18. Comment #396777 by BeyondBelief

Yes, very good points on how evolution is not goal-directed.

Apparently Collins and even Ken Miller labor under this misconception - it seems they have to in order to reconcile their faith with evolution. I guess this is the real crossroads point; when Dawkins, Coyne, etc saw this for the first time that really pushed them into atheism, while Miller, Collins apparently rationalized it away.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:50:00 UTC | #379402

Squigit's Avatar Comment 25 by Squigit

I rather like this one: it's quick and to the point. Sure, we could go into all the genetics of common ancestry (ok, I can't) but I think that would just confuse the audience that needs to be targeted. The evolution of humans is a bit more "in your face" as far as appearances go...it's very, very easy to see the physical similarites between chimps and humans, etc...it's not easy to convince someone of evolution using extinct species--like the one using the whale-- because a number of creationists don't accept fossil evidence to begin with (or even that fossils exist--it's a conspiracy, remember?). With using living species as examples, people can easily see those similarities and they just *have* to wonder why those similarities even exist.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:52:00 UTC | #379404

Squigit's Avatar Comment 26 by Squigit

21. Comment #396782 by blitz442

I find that the car evolution analogy doesn't work because: "see! people made the cars evolve so god made us evolve!"

No kidding, heard it before.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 12:54:00 UTC | #379405

blitz442's Avatar Comment 27 by blitz442

23. Comment #396785 by phasmagigas

Yes... poised to take over those modes if they where to become unoccupied again.

One thing I would like to throw out there. How would you quickly dispose of this query:

"I could see a fly evolving into another type of fly, but I could never see a fly evolving into a man, or even another insect like a preying mantis. You say that there were enough mutations and increases in genetic information to get us from a single-celled organism to everything thing alive today, but maintain that there is no way for a modern fly to ever evolve into a reptile. How can these two things be true at the same time."

My first objection would be to the concept of "types", but how would you deal with the limits on variation that seem to be "built in" to modern forms£


Edit: changed spider to preying mantis

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 13:01:00 UTC | #379406

blitz442's Avatar Comment 28 by blitz442

26. Comment #396790 by Squigit

Did you slap that person£

I guess I would simply ask why God did not skip the Model T and go straight to the Ferrari.

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 13:05:00 UTC | #379407

ShannonMarie's Avatar Comment 29 by ShannonMarie

The inane question that Richard addresses so patiently is just another example of human solipsism. Why should chimps or other African apes evolve into humans when there is no particular selection pressure requiring them to do any such thing? As Michel Foucault points out,

"From the moment philosophy became anthropology, and man sought to recognize himself in a natural plenitude, the animal lost its power of negativity, in order to become, between the determinism of nature and the reason of man, the positive form of an evolution."

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 13:16:00 UTC | #379409

The-bleeding-obvious's Avatar Comment 30 by The-bleeding-obvious

RD is quite right cos ive just watched star trek, the one were the crew evolve rather rapidly in reverse!

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 13:18:00 UTC | #379411