The other day I was having a conversation with a friend (who is majoring in zoology) when the topic of evolution briefly came up. When this topic came up he asked the question “If evolution is real, then how can monkeys still exist?” as if as an argument against the entire idea of evolution. I’m not the person to make a big deal out of something like that at the time so I just let it go and changed the subject… But it is just something that has been slightly bothering me. How can there be such denial on a scientifically accepted fact? From a zoology major no less…
One common misconception that leads people to believe that evolution can’t be real is that evolution occurs individually. Evolution is the change in populations, not individuals. Therefore it would be possible that evolution can happen from monkeys to humans over a span of million years. When people understand the time period that is being discussed with evolution I think they would be a lot more accepting of the idea.
Another major misconception about evolution is that it leads to species constantly getting more advanced, or progressing up a “ladder”. It is understandable why one would think this. Many times evolution is mistaught or just not understood. Evolution is the idea that change occurs on a species over time due to natural selection. Natural selection is often referred to as “survival of the fittest” leading some to think it indicates progress. It only indicates change, though, which is not always progress.
One point I would like to finish up with is the term cladogenesis. Cladogenesis means that differences start to occur because of one species breaking into two isolated groups. This means it would have been very easy for a distant monkey group to branch off from its original group and move to a new environment, fueling evolution. The monkey group left behind would experience different changes due to being left in a different environment. This is why it is possible that humans exist along with monkeys.
If you found this interesting please check out Bill Nye’s book Undeinable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.
“Evolution is one of the most powerful and important ideas ever developed in the history of science. Every question it raises leads to new answers, new discoveries, and new smarter questions. The science of evolution is as expansive as nature itself. It is also the most meaningful creation story that humans have ever found.”—Bill Nye