After the publication of “On the Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin, Evolution through natural selection was rather quickly adopted by scientists. However, in its infancy scientists imagined evolution as linear and progressive. The early expectation in scientific communities was that modern humans evolved from existing ape populations gradually and that there had to be fossil evidence that links humans to apes.
In the late nineteenth century, a common misinterpretation of Charles Darwin’s work was that humans were lineally descended from existing species of apes. To accept this theory some fossil ape-man seemed necessary in order to complete the chain. In popular culture, this ape-man was named as the link between modern human and contemporary ape species.
After scientists and science enthusiasts spent millions on searching the missing link and pouring thousands of man-hours into it, eventually, we have discovered that humans have not evolved from existing ape species. It is just that millions of years ago humans and primates were the same species. There has never been a species that linked humans to existing ape species.
If We Evolved From Monkeys …
For homo sapiens to evolve from apes, the ancestors of homo sapiens (modern human) must have been an ape species, but homo sapiens must no longer be one. In reality, however, homo sapiens is merely one of the four types of great ape species alive.
The Great Apes are named for their large bodies, they also have larger brains than other primates, and they are active during the day, but they rest at night. Other than humans, the other types of great apes alive are the orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees. That we exclude humans from ape species in daily conversations is a social matter, not scientific.
… Why Are There Still Monkeys?
To think that the best thing that an ape can do is to become a human goes on to show the arrogance of humans. It may come as disappointing to some, but it not the dream of every other species on Earth to evolve into a human. Humans are a terrific species only as humans, chimps are a terrific species only as chimps, and bonobos are a terrific species only as bonobos.
There is a long list of things that non-human apes can do well but humans cannot. For example, other apes are many times stronger than humans, they are excellent tree climbers, and they can inhabitat trees, and their short-time memories are incomparably better than any of ours. Therefore, having and missing the exact human traits would make a non-human ape in nature an unfit member of its species, and it would die long before it can have off-spring.
Our Common Ancestors
Including homo sapiens, all ape species are the decedents of a species that lived millions of years ago. This species does not exist anymore, not because it went extinct but because it has evolved to become humans, chimps, bonobos, orangutans, etc. of modern times.
The common ancestor of all apes alive, including homo sapiens, would look more like a non-human ape to us than a human, which should not come as a surprise. All left unchanged, merely a thick fur would make someone resemble a non-human ape than a human, likewise, merely lack of fur would make our cousins unmistakably resemble us .