Why are chimps still chimps ?

By | May 3, 2021
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One general question children and non science people tend to ask is why chimpanzees still remained as chimpanzees even after so many years. If humans evolved from apes like gorilla and chimpanzees, why are there still chimpanzees and gorillas exists on this planet? Why they all have not evolved into humans? Why aren’t the chimpanzees extinct?

The simple answer to this is Humans didn’t evolve from chimps and gorillas. In fact, Human beings are cousins of chimpanzees and Gorillas, not descendants from them. We share a great – great ancestor with them and that common ancestor was not a chimpanzee or a human.

To clarify the main question of this post : Chimps and Gorillas are doing really well as of now and they have no need to evolve any more. 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.

We are so much focused on our own history and while doing that we tend to ignore the evolutionary history of various other life forms like chimps, reptiles, birds, insects and bacteria. Like humans, all other life forms have unique evolutionary histories leading to the present day modern forms and this they do by retaining some characters exhibited by ancestors and on the other hand evolving some new characters which will help them adapt better to to their habitat.

The two major misconceptions this question reflects are that evolution is (1) always linear and (2) innately progressive and we humans occupying the top spot. People generally tend to think evolution as a race or a ladder. If it was a race out there, we humans did not beat all the animals and won and if were a ladder, then chimps and other apes are standing alongside us. The fact is we (Humans and apes) evolved alongside them from a common ancestor, and not by displacing them.

To explain it better, it’s easier to think as evolution forms a very bushy tree (not at all ladder) with most basal animal at the base of the trunk and many branches representing all animals living today and we are just one of many leaves on the tree of life.

Image Credit : @Pixabay