Turns out we DID come from monkeys!

In an earlier video, I listed many of the taxonomic traits identifying humans as primates.  In another video, I also explained why we’re more specifically classified as a species of apes.  But I deliberately omitted an intermediate stage between those two apparent levels, because it’s one that evokes so much resistance it really requires separate discussion just for that one grade alone. 

Now no one argues whether we’re vertebrates or placental mammals, even though that also means we’re animals.  The fact that we’re apes can now be verified just as easily.  For a while, most people thought the word, “ape” referred only to extant non-human pongids also known as “great apes”.  There was no consideration given to “lesser” apes, nor to any of the many ancient apes we kept finding fossils for.  Mainstream science sources are just now starting to realize that the word, ‘ape’ means a lot more than just chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, and that it includes a few extinct hominids that are more humanoid than any of these. 

So there was a problem with our old method of classification, and it had to be fixed.  Over the last two hundred and fifty years, we’ve kept patching up the original seven-layer system by adding a suborder, infraorder, superfamily, subgenus, and so on -‘til we can’t even tell how to rank the labels anymore.  That’s when we figured out that there are no ranks!  So we dropped the labels and found a new system, one that isn’t so arbitrary.  See, the problem with Linnaean taxonomy is that some of it is subjective. It’s usually based on morphological similarity, and sometimes on opinion, and loathsome opinions at that. There's often no way to prove whether Linnaean classification was even correct because he didn't rely on the rigid sort of rules that phylogenetics does.  

We used to say that men didn’t evolve from apes, but that men and apes shared a common ancestor. Now we have a better understanding of what an ape is, and that our common ancestor actually would have been classified as such, and so should we be.  This rule of monophyletic hierarchy should apply to everything including the race of cat-people from the science fiction comedy, Red Dwarf.   

“I don’t get it.”
“Well, you know how mankind evolved from apes?”
“Yeah, I know that.”
“He evolved from cats. His ancestors were cats.  He’s descended from cats. He is a cat.”

“Here you go, Cat.  Holly says you like these.”
“Hey, you monkeys eat off the floor?”
Ain’t you got no style or sophistication?”
“Oh I’m sorry Cat, sorry.”
“You people are unbelievable.”

Creationists try to ridicule evolution through the implication that “we came from monkeys”, and those who know the difference are quick to point out that apes are not monkeys.  For one thing, apes don’t have tails.  But there’s more to it than that.  For example, we can tell that a Barbary ape isn’t really an ape, it’s a tailless monkey; the same way we can tell that a glass snake isn’t really a snake; it’s a legless lizard.  There are so many distinctions that even if we found a snake that had legs, (and we have) we’d still know it was a snake. 

But snakes are a subset of the order, Squamata; That means “lizard”.  If snakes evolved from lizards, do they stop being lizards at the moment they become snakes?  And when exactly is that moment?  It turns out this is another confusing convention in Linnaean taxonomy which is corrected by cladistics.  Paraphyletic groups shouldn’t exist in phylogenetics, nor would systematic classification permit the emergence of new species to add another equivalent category.  Instead existing branches split into successive subsets that are each monophyletic, sharing a common line of descent from which they can diverge but never detach.  This means snakes will always be a subset of lizards and apes would still be monkeys. 

“Talking monkeys can’t exist!”
“Apes!  Monkeys are further down the evolutionary ladder.”

Now I’ve done it.  I’ve annoyed both creationists and scientists too!  But I intend to show that our old interpretations are incorrect; that not only was the ancestor of apes actually a monkey after all, but that they never stopped being monkeys, and neither did we.  I intend to show that humans can be -and already are- properly classified currently both as apes and as monkeys. 

“Well evolution, it’s come back on the cusp. 
Mr. Charles Darwin –who looked a bit like God, which is interesting. 
And he wrote a book called ‘You’re a fucking monkey, mate’!”
And he played around with the title for a while;
‘We’re all fucking monkeys’
‘You’re a fucking monkey, mate’
‘Get out of my face; you’re a fucking monkey’
Then he ended up calling it ‘Origin of the Species’
(mumble mumble mumble)

For centuries, taxonomists taught us that the clan of monkeys was divided into two branches.  Some primatologists prefer to say, New World ‘monkeys’ and Old World ‘primates’ because they don’t want people to confuse apes with monkeys.  They look at them as sister groups, and they consider that the Old World “monkeys” refer only to Cercopithecidae.  This is a relatively modern group, so we know apes didn’t evolve from them.  They certainly didn’t evolve from New World monkeys either; that’s a whole different lineage.  So by this definition, apes are not monkeys and aren’t descended from them.  But polyphyletic groups wouldn’t exist in an evolutionary lineage either.  Just as two Latin-based languages couldn’t be independently derived from a non-Latin template, neither could separate sets of monkeys have come from a source that wasn’t itself a monkey also. 

“I think God designed us in his image,
but I also think God is a monkey!”

Imagine you get to interview the Knight-Industries-Two-Thousand from the TV show, Knightrider, and you tell it you’ve never had a conversation with a car before.  But KITT argues that he is not a car, because he’s smarter and generally better than any car, because mere cars can’t talk like he can.  Of course you know that even a sentient automobile is still an automobile.  So if you can’t determine a rigid definition of exactly what that is, perhaps you could still prove the point if KITT will admit that being manufactured as a General Motors Pontiac Firebird Trans Am means it can only be a car.  People deny their monkeyhood for the same reason, and that excuse can be refuted in the same way. 

Phenotypical taxonomy is character-based, an in-depth analysis of every morphological, developmental, genetic or physiological trait.  Systematic classification surpasses this by comparing these collectives to determine derived synapomorphies indicating a nested phylogeny -and that determines the clade!  Because phylogenetic hierarchy is the only consistent criteria for classifying diverse forms stemming from an evolutionary lineage, and that evidently is where we came from.

“Ah, I see. So you’re saying we’ve traveled in time but not in space.”
“Listen you semi-evolved simian, go climb a tree, will you?”
“Go bang your heads together, four-eyes.”
“No no, your monkey has got it right.
“You’ve jumped forward many millions of years in time
whilst retaining the same position in space.”

Let’s start with the definition of primates, and then add the traits of each successive stage from there on.  We begin with a pair of subsets and a transitional link between them, one that is almost a monkey.  When referring to basal monkeys, ancestral to ourselves, most scientists prefer to use the word, ‘Anthropoid’, one of two acceptable names for that clade.  Because –regardless of phylogeny- scientists generally consider it incorrect, -or even offensive- to refer to humans or other apes as “monkeys”.  That’s a colloquial term, not a scientific one.  And it’s paraphyletic, meaning “all anthropoids except apes”, just like “apes” used to mean “all hominoids except humans”.  But saying “all of them except for us” is a Freudian admission that we already know ‘we’ are one of ‘them’.  Besides the words, ‘anthropoid’ and ‘hominoid’ both imply possession of human characteristics.  So humans could hardly be excluded from either taxon. 

We’re just beginning to realize this, and it takes time to accept unconventional or uncomfortable truths.  If you go to the right school in North Carolina, you’ll learn the new standard, one which admits that humans are monkeys in the literal sense.  But in Texas, they’ll still say that Chimpanzees belong to the Pongo family -even though this was shown to be in error at least a decade ago. 

Polyphyletic omissions attempting to exclude basal simiiforms and avoid embarrassing associations are unscientific and unacceptable, being reliant on subjective criteria.  Common dictionary definitions are similarly inconsistent, incomplete, contradictory, and inapplicable.  So are the absurd aspects of some layman’s classifications.  Obviously we can’t properly identify anything by single traits, nor can we say what something is by listing what it is not.  Traits that are usually present still aren’t definitive unless they are shared by all members.  So the only way to properly classify anything is according to the collective characters common to everything already accepted in that category without making exceptions for certain ones. 

Consequently, cladistics has rendered some colloquial words like “fish” and “reptiles” virtually meaningless because they’re as inconsistent with phylogeny as “things that are grey”.  We must either assign consistent definitions or drop these words from our vocabulary of scientific terms.  And it’s important to note that while there are English words to distinguish apes from monkeys, other languages don’t see this division.  The Latin word for ‘monkey’ is ‘simian’, and that is the other name of the clade to which apes and all other monkeys belong. 

At the root of the simian family tree is another transitional fossil, one that is universally recognized as a monkey and is described as such even by primatologists.  Thus this form represents the mother of all monkeys as well as their descendants in denial. 

The first division within that clade is between parapithecids, a diverse group of monkeys who are now all extinct, and the clade that remains, forming the next division.  Here we have another transitional species bridging the morphological gap between the basal forms of both New World and Old World monkeys.  

"Well, men are sort of evoluted from the Old World monkeys."
"Did you hear that, my friends?  Old World monkeys!  According to Mr. Cates,
you and I aren't even descended from good American monkeys."

In some respects, New World monkeys are actually older and more primitive than Old World monkeys.  And contrary to popular opinion, Old World monkeys aren’t a sister clade to apes, because they’re not limited to Cercopiths.  The fossil record reveals yet another set Catarrhines that are not only definitely monkeys, but are basal to both Cercopithecidae and Hominoidea. 

Most cladograms omit or ignore groups that are otherwise entirely extinct, and thus perpetuate an erroneous illusion –especially since these groups are where the most transitional species are to be found.  In this case, Aegyptopithecus was an ape-like monkey believed to be ancestral to Proconsul, a "monkey-like ape" and the forerunner of all hominoidea.  The implication is inescapable even when there is a concentrated effort to avoid using the word "monkey" in a context which includes apes. And that's especially odd since the general public commonly recognizes chimpanzees and even gorillas as "monkeys". If they’re not monkeys, then what is the difference between them?  Especially since every ape extant or extinct including man himself meet all the criteria of that clade.  Regardless of the outraged objections often raised by this, it is a fact that -whether classified by features or phylogeny- humans and other apes are uneschewably monkeys both by definition and derivation. 

“You’re a fucking monkey, mate!”