Delineating Humans And Apes


So a lady on here recently asked how I dilineate humans from apes and I wrote a rather long response which I’m decently proud of and don’t want to waste. As such I’m going to share it as a myTake to see what y’all think, and for easier access in the future if I need it.

*Before I go further I should state that I’m not a biologist of any stripe. I’m just a curious guy who reads on my own, so if there are any biologists out there who note I got something wrong I apologize and please correct me*

We’re in this family because we’re all large tailless primates with enlarged craniums, prognathous (projected) jaws (although reduced in humans we still have them), we all have the same dental formula, none of us have ischial callocites (think of a baboons butt), and we’ve got opposable digits (although humans lost that in our toe-thumbs). Another shared characteristic of the other three is that all have baculum (penis bones) which humans normally do not although we sometimes get them in atavism.

The common ancestor of all hominidae is believed to have existed ~14 million years ago (mya).

Delineating Humans And Apes
After hominids we split from our orangutan friends to make hominine ~12mya.
Delineating Humans And Apes

Then we split with our Gorilla friends ~6mya and from our chimp friends in homininan ~4mya.

Delineating Humans And Apes

So enough of the cool science stuff and back to the question. “Were the first humans apes or something between apes and humans.” I already answered the first that yes they were apes just as were still apes. All creatures are taxonomically classified in the same group as their parent species because they retain traits indicative of that taxon whether or not they form a new species. So we’re still apes for the same reason that we’re still bilateral deuterostomes and vertebrate mammals. To your second question, yes, the first “humans” (genus homo) were something between our common ancestor and us. Other species of homo (humans) included rudolfensis, erectus, habilis, sapiens, and us Homo Sapien Sapiens. Not all were as complex as us and all others died off for one reason or another.

Delineating Humans And Apes
Lastly you ask, “Where do you draw the line between ape and human?” As I said we are ape, but I think what you’re actually asking here is a moral rather than scientific question about how I dilineate the difference in value between humans and other apes. To that I would firstly say tribalism plays a part. I’m human and thus humans are obviously more important to me than other apes. Secondly humans are far more complex and as a result have a greater capacity for pain and pleasure. This means that doing something bad to an innocent human is worse than doing something bad to an innocent orangutan because the harm caused is greater.

Hope that helped a bit.”

Thanks for reading, any clarifications are appreciated.

Delineating Humans And Apes
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Most Helpful Guys

  • goaded
    Here's something I wrote on the subject nine months ago...

    I'm not religious, but even the Catholic Church is accepting of evolution.

    There has been 150 years worth of biologists, any of whom would have become instantly famous if they found anything that really disproves evolution. Instead, scientific and technological advances have reinforced the evidence for evolution every step of the way since Wallace and Darwin proposed it.

    Humans are related to dogs, birds, and whales, and insects and jellyfish, for that matter, you just have to keep going further back in time to find a common ancestor.

    The common ancestors of chimps and humans lived about 7 million years ago, the common ancestors of chimps, humans and gorillas lived about 10 million years ago. You can keep going back, the common ancestors of all four-legged animals (including all mammals, lizards, dinosaurs and birds) were around 395 million years ago, vertebrates (anything with a backbone) 500+ million years ago, back to single celled creatures 2100+ million years ago.

    You are descended from your great-great-great grandparents, right? They're not still around, but there's a good chance you have fourth or fifth cousins also descended from the same couple. They probably don't look as much like you as your siblings or first cousins do.

    Now, try imagining your 50th cousins, descended from a couple who lived in about the year 1000 (I could be one of them!), you wouldn't recognise them as family.

    Your 500th cousins would have had a common ancestor living about 9000 years BC and be spread all over the world.

    Keep going back, and imagine your 5000th cousins, or your 50000th cousins. Some of them might be quite a bit hairier than us and live in trees.

    The common ancestors and their peers have long ago turned to dust, or (very rarely) fossils, but their descendants, who all looked very much like their parents, now look very different from their distant ancestors and very different to each other.
    Is this still revelant?
  • There is much evidences that humans and apes did not come from each other but that we were wonderfully created by God.

    You may say but 3 of these 4 are creation sources and you're right but the source doesn't matter if they provide the evidences showing we aren't the same nor came from them.
    Is this still revelant?
    • ladsin

      Well. I’m game to talk it out, but first you have tot ell me whether or not you read the myTake.

    • Read about 50 to 60% of it but I don't hold an evolutionists' perception as towards our existence. I think there is greater reasons to believe evidences lead to God creating creatures differently.

    • ladsin

      Ok. I’ve been trying this question out on a few people, but I haven’t determined whether it yields any results or not yet.

      Do you accept that you’re a vertebrate mammal?

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Most Helpful Girl

  • Pink2000
    We did not come from monkeys 😐😒
    Is this still revelant?
    • Monkeys and apes are not the same thing. 🙃

    • Pink2000

      @TacocaT6969 monkeys apes you know wtf I meant. We didn’t come from monkeys , apes, fish , nothin

    • admles

      Evolution doesn't even say that.

      It says that Humans and Apes descended from a common ancestor. Apes went one way, we went another.

    • Show All

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • Curmudgeon
    Is that second picture of the late Koko, with her handler Francine "Penny" Patterson?
    • ladsin

      I knew it was Coco, but just assumed it was some branch project of Goodall’s I hadn’t heard of. Patterson looks strikingly like a young Goodall doesn’t she?

    • ladsin

      At least in that photo.

    • She's about a decade younger than Ms. Goodall, but she is old by now too. IIRC, Penny and her assistants taught Koko to signal with sign language, but no, they could never have a sustained sign language conversation with her about what it's like to be a gorilla

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  • Ad_Quid_Orator
    Good take. Also we know how humans evolved from apes; a process called neoteny where juvenile traits are retained into adulthood. In this case it's the shape of the skull; the cranium remains large relative to the total size in adulthood. Unfortunately this also means that our face doesn't protrude so there isn't enough room for our wisdom teeth.

    Many people think evolution means member of one clade evolving into another (like cats evolving into dogs). Instead it consists of speciation events each giving rise to a new clade. Going back to cats and dogs, they don't look too much alike but a member of the fox family has many traits in common with the house cat. That's because the cat and dog families belong to a larger clade (the carnivorans) which shared a common ancestor 40 million years ago called miacis. This animal would have looked like a modern genet (which has features of both cats and foxes) which would then have evolved into the first member of the dog and cat families (who would have looked like a fox and cat respectively) who then diversified into all the members of the cat and dog families.
    • ladsin

      Mm. If I recall correctly the gene that regulates our mandible size (giving us our small jaw) increased our cranial capacity. That in tandem with a dysfunctional tumor supressor gene and possibly some dietary changes our brains grew significantly larger.

  • Grond21
    So even though you said you're not a biologist, why did you only focus on the biological history? In order to delineate humans and apes, you need to say what makes us different now, not just that we differentiated at one point historically.
    For example, our ability to reason, our ability to imagine the future, our ability to ask the question why, our ability to think about thinking, etc.
    • ladsin

      Ah, well I was just more narrowly focused on one aspect of the question because I could obviously spend forever tackiling it from different angles. For example high fidelity copying in humans that leads to redundancies that other hominids don’t have. Increased cranial capacity due to decreased jaw size. Theory of mind. Greatly improved cognitive functioning and social organization. Etc

    • Grond21

      What is high fidelity copying?

    • ladsin

      As children especially we copy what we see our parents and other community members doing exactly. So I believe the study was, “Push or Pull: Imitation vs. Emulation in Great Apes and Human Children” by Claudio Tennie Josep Call Michael Tomasello, but there are several others demonstrating similar findings so it might not be the original. Essentially they gave kids of each of the 4 great apes a box which they had to solve to open. Humans and non-human apes were able to solve the boxes on their own (emulation), but only the human kids learned through imitation of the researcher. This actually leads to some quirky things. For example if the kid (of any) is given a box once they are able to figure out how to open it on their own (ie pull a lever and it opens). If they’re repeatedly given the box they start to immediately pull the lever because they learned that action opens the box. The researcher will then attempt to demonstrate how to open the box with a false move (ie knock three times before pulling lever). The other three great apes ignore the knocking and pull the lever. Humans though copy the knocking even though it’s useless.

      This is also why you see people copying things for no intelligible reason. I actually caught myself doing this the other day. I am selling my car and when I posted pictures of it online I put my thumb in front of my license plate. Someone interested in buying asked why I did that. I had to respond that it was high fidelity copying 😂 I don’t know why I did it, but I’ve seen other people do it and I assume they have a good reason to do it, so I copy it without knowing why. He lost interest in the car after that.

  • I appreciate the effort you made. but evolution is to fickle a science.
    Humans and apes have many similarities, however we never had a common ancestor. There is 0 empirical evidence for it.
    • ladsin

      Too fickle a science? How do you mean? You realize that Evolutionary Theory is the cornerstone of modern biology. Saying that it’s a fickle science would be like saying the germ theory of disease or atomic theory are fickle sciences. Evolutionary theory for example is what makes our vaccines work, and I just presume statistically that you’re not an anti-vaxer.

      As for empirical evidence... that’s not true. I mean I presume you’d consider paternity tests empirical evidence that someone is in fact the baby daddy. The same genetic tests that demonstrate lineage between immediate parent and offspring show our relatedness with other primates and in fact all extant creatures. More closely related organisms share more genes.

    • ladsin

      Thanks for recognizing the effort that went in though.

    • by fickle I mean, new data is always being found and the theory has been altered constantly.
      What we know today may be irrelevant or better understood tomorrow. So i tend to stay on the side of I dont know. Rather than quote the scientists. Understanding probability makes one understand how improbable evolution is.

      And yeah, all researchers, and students work hard, and you explained the delineation quite concisely

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  • It's said that bedrooms are always upstairs because apes make beds in trees. there's something buried in out psyche to climb before sleeping.
    • ladsin

      That seems to be a rather wild assertion. I’ve lived in several one story houses which precluded having a room upstairs. Even when my family got a two story house all the bedrooms were downstairs.

    • goaded

      It makes sense to have the living room on the floor with the best view.

    • @goaded my bedroom has always been on the ground floor since u was six or seven

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  • taleswapper
    "This means that doing something bad to an innocent human is worse than doing something bad to an innocent orangutan because the harm caused is greater."

    I think I would have said "... my empathy is less offended." There's no objective measure of harm, and you've couched it in terms of tribalism, after all. I suspect the orangutans would find the harm done weighted the other way... ;)
    • ladsin

      There’s no objective definition of health either, but that doesn’t mean the term is useless. We can still relatively easily point out that by any reasonable definition the person up and jumping around is healthier than the dead guy with blood pooling under him.

      In much the same way when I pointed out that the capacity of humans to experience both suffering and joy I thought my statement made it relatively evident that the metric I was using was that of suffering. Maybe not though.

  • HungLikeAHorsefly
    Science has been clear that humans are primates since like, forever ago. Is this really still a question in anybody's mind?
    • ladsin

      Being a primate and an ape are different things, but even then it makes sense to delineate where the differences lie. For example humans are mammals, but all mammals aren’t humans. So figuring out the differences is interesting to me at least.

    • That's why I said primate and not ape. ;)

      FWIW, I'm not a biologist either, but my wife was an anthropologist before she changed to her current career. From having spent many years going to various museums and watching documentaries with her, I have three comments about your post:

      1. Your comment: After hominids we split from our orangutan friends to make hominine ~12mya" isn't entirely accurate because Homo Sapiens Sapiens is currently considered a species of Hominoidea (hominids).

      2. Saying we "split from" various modern day primates is misleading. Remember evolution is less like a tree and more like a bush. We still share a great deal of genetics with all of these species of primates, but in another very real way we were never really related to them at all - we are related to some distant ancestor of say, a gorilla, but never an actual gorilla.

      3. The last paragraph is highly subjective. That's more in the realm of philosophy than biology.

      Other than that, this is a great Take. Well done.

    • Ugh, and I just realized that for #1 I totally missed the part where you said we formed hominine. Nevermind. This is why I shouldn't drink beer while I post.

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  • FroztyDaHoMan
    Anybody notice that the bible and science completely contradict each other? Now I know you will say well that disproves the bible but what if all of these things are contrary to the bible simply because the people pulling the strings simply want us to go against the bible?
  • Passinggas
    But take it back even further in that we possess the lizard brain at our lowest brain functions. So is first the first picture you in your mommy's arms? You're a cute kid.
    • ladsin

      I think you missed a step because I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. “Reptilian brain” is a reference to our most basal brain structures ie brainstem and cerebellum. Then comes our limbic structures or, “limbic brain” if you’d like with the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus. This portion is essentially responsible for memory formation and emotions which first developed in mammals. Lastly we get our neocortex or, “high brain” if you’d like, which is the layered curly part of your brain which only comes around in primates and is responsible for higher brain functioning like language formation, imagination, sensory perceptions etc.

      Not sure what that has to do with me being an orangutan.

    • I like the detailed reply and all I was saying is we can be traced much further back to other creatures with equivalent basic functions. Point only being why stop with this family. It wasn't meant to be perplexing.

    • ladsin

      Because I was answering a particular question 😂

      Why would I answer a question about human-ape ancestry with the ancestry of all life?

      Thanks for clarifying though. Have a good one

  • smg99
    Wonderfully written and the logical reasoning of its psycho-social dimension is something I believe too.
    Great read :)
    • ladsin


    • smg99

      You’re welcome it was inspiring:)

  • White-American89
    I think it's wrong to project human qualities on to wild animals, an ape will beat you to death in the wild. Let apes be apes free from human interference.
    • ladsin

      I’m not sure what that’s got to do with anything. Humans will beat you to death as well. Actually the rates of violent death especially in hunter gatherer societies is quite similar to the rate found in modern chimps. The biggest difference really is that humans are more likely to die when we’re the attacking party because we take greater risks.

    • Like I said I think it's wrong to project human qualities on to wild animals, an ape will beat you to death in the wild. Let apes be apes free from human interference.
      Also I dont think aboringes kill each other higher rates and I was talking about apes.

    • ladsin

      Well humans are apes as I explained, and it’s just the case that hunter gatherer societies are as violent as other apes as demonstrated in Comparative Rates of Violence in Chimpanzees and Humans by Wrangham et al, “Violent mortality among chimpanzees was distributed approximately equally among two major classes: adult/ adolescent males and infants (Table 4). Among humans, by contrast, war mortality appears generally to be highest in adult males. For example in seven subsistence farming societies with data compiled by Keeley (1996: Table 6.2) the median percentage of deaths due to warfare was 28.5% for males (range 8.3–59.0) versus 6.1% for females (range 2.3–27.0). Considering only adult males, therefore, rates of mortality may be higher for humans (Fig. 2).”

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  • bioscientist
    Nice diagram from Wikipedia:
  • zagor
    Well, at one point I would have said one of the distinctions is that humans don't fling shit at each other, but then I saw that video of that woman at 7-11...
  • MannySimms
    I suppose some people would rather feel special than form an opinion due to evidence. It's far easier to state the POOF!! theory than research an issue, plus you get to have a wonderful afterlife! I have fun asking creationists why males of so many species have nipples. They will NOT offer an opinion. They know they're better than you since they're in a certain social club that requires dues. That kind of thinking makes me sick

  • Phoenix98
    I honestly do not believe we came from apes but it's all good if you want to, diversity of opinion, makes for interesting discussion.
    • ladsin

      Sure. Did you read it? Do you agree that you’re a mammal?

    • Phoenix98

      I did read your post yes.

      I believe I am a human with mammal characteristics.

    • ladsin

      Cool, do you agree that you share more traits in common with primates than you do other mammals, if so why do you think this to be the case?

  • ShadowofRegret
    So tell me, what is this "common ancester" you speak of?

    What is it exactly and what did it look like? Tell me the details.
    • ladsin

      Common ancestor of what? apes? All living things?

    • One fossil specimen name "Toumai" (species name: Sahelanthropus) may have been the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees.

  • HereIbe
    Humans ARE apes.

    We are in the Hominidae, along with chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans.
    Within the Hominidae, we are in the Homininae, along with chimpanzees and gorillas.

    • ladsin

      Did this part
      -Well humans are apes, specifically we’re a member of the great apes which are called hominidae. Extant members of this family are the Pongo, Gorilla, and the Panins-
      not come through at the beginning of the myTake?

      I copied and pasted from my initial answer but it looks like that part got cut somehow damnit. That said you forgot the Orangutan, although their addition to hominidae is relatively more recent due to our increasing knowledge of them.

  • Nadim171
    I beleive we looked more like apes but we aren't from the same spiecy. Just like lions and tigers look similar but each comes from a different speicy
  • Deathraider
    Yas! Good.
  • needadvice1245
    Adam and eve.
    • ladsin


    • Wtf does that mean and I take it your a science nerd

    • ladsin

      So Genesis has two creation accounts of woman. The first in Genesis 1:27 and the second in Genesis 2:22. In the first woman is made at the same time as man, but in the second Adam is knocked out and a rib is taken from him to make Eve. The Genesis Rabbah and Alphabet of Ben Sira claims the first woman was Lilith. Ben Sira, Midrash Abkir, Zohar and Kabbalistic traditions hold that Lilith being made at the same time and of the same dust refused to be subservient to man and thus due to her disobedience was cast out of the garden. She later was believed to have come back as the serpent which tempted Eve, is the cause of nocturnal emissions, was the mother of demons, etc. it’s also believed that she’s the woman being referenced in the Christian Bible’s Proverbs 2 “16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words, 17 who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. 18 Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. 19 None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.” There are a few other references to her, but that sums up most of it.

  • TacocaT6969
    Was that a question or a statement?
  • Good take
  • Joker_
    I agree
  • humanearth
    I would say human first then ape
  • monkeynutts
    Yeah I'm a real ape.
    • ladsin

      I can tell from the pic.

  • Anonymous
    >I wrote a rather long response which I’m decently proud of and don’t want to waste
    >Has a political compass avatar

    The cringe is enough to kill any interest to take you seriously from this point.
    • ladsin

      >Goes anony
      > finds joy in ridiculing people’s interests.

      Garbage human

    • Anonymous

      Where in the world are you being ridiculed? Way to play the victim card for a libertarianesque moron who's gonna preach later about personal responsibilities.

      Learn to properly write in your language as well.

    • ladsin

      Saying it’s cringe-y to demonstrate interest in science certainly seems to be a form of ridicule.

      Also if you want to critique my grammar in the comment section of an online forum you’re welcome to. It’s just not an interesting use of my time.

      What my political beliefs has to do with science is rather unbeknownst to me, but you can explain if you’d like.

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  • Anonymous
    I recently read that humans are the only animals that know that sex leads to pregnancy. Obviously, all animals have sex. But only humans know that pregnancy is a potential result.
    • ladsin

      Hmm. An interesting idea. I hadn’t thought about that. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but humans obviously have the greatest capacity for forward thinking as a benefit of our enlarged frontal lobes. So it may be plausible.

      That said the sex practices of other species are rather varied and I think some could be understood as a recognition of pregnancy. Ie copulatory vocalization in female chimps has been noted, among other things, to be a method of calling other males over to engage in coitus. There are three primary reasons she does this. 1) If the male is low status he’s attacked by the other chimps and this unable to finish copulating this preventing a weaker baby. 2) To get other chimps to engage in essentially an orgy ensuring that no single male knows who the father is preventing infanticide. 3) If the male is strong enough he will beat away the other chimps and finish copulating this she gets good seed. Obviously ascribing intent to non-human animals is a form of anthropomorphizing and not a great practice, so I only mention that as a possibility.

  • Anonymous
    It's pretty simple. Humans build societies. Apes demand reparations.