How Many Missing Links Are ThereNow?
– – Blog of 6-16-2020, by J.X. Mason.
When Darwin published Origin of the Species in 1859, he wrote that human were quite likely descended from apes, but the world would have to wait for sufficient evidence to emerge.
(Only Neanderthal remains had been discovered in 1856, just three years before the pubication of Origin of the Species. Today, we know that the Neanderthals were a “sister species” of human beings, and it appears that some interbreeding may have occured between the two. The Neanderthals became extinct, likely due to extermination by immigrating humans, climate change, and/or disease. )
During the 19th century, Fundamentalist Christian “Creationists” derided Darwin’s theory of evolution, crowing, “Where is the ‘Missing Link’ between ape and man?” Today, many more skeletal fossils have been found of the pre-apes, apes, and pre-humans that are the ancestors of human beings. (Of course, when each new “link” is discovered, it creates two new, but smaller “gaps” on each side of it, gaps which Creationists, in stubborn ignorance, like to seize on. )
Wikipedia supplies us with a superb account of our now-known human ancestors, including wonderful diagrams, drawings, and timelines. We can do no better than refer readers to Wikipedia’s article on this subject: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_evolution . Here are the Wikipedia article’s two opening paragraphs:
“Human evolution is the evolutionary process that led to the emergence of anatomically modern humans, beginning with the evolutionary history of primates—in particular genus Homo—and leading to the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species of the hominid family, the great apes. This process involved the gradual development of traits such as human bipedalism and language, as well as interbreeding with other hominins, which indicate that human evolution was not linear but a web.”
“The study of human evolution involves several scientific disciplines, including physical anthropology, primatology, archaeology, paleontology, neurobiology, ethology, linguistics, evolutionary psychology, embryology and genetics. Genetic studies show that primates diverged from other mammals about , in the Late Cretaceous period, and the earliest fossils appear in the Paleocene, around .
Below is Wikiperdia’s timeline of human descent. Each name and each event is supported by fossil, genetic, and/or anthropological evidence. Note that the term “primates”– means all the animals in the timeline beow — including lemurs, monkeys, apes, gorillas, baboons, gibbons, orangutans, neanderthals, and human beings. Humans are not directly descended from any of those creatures. Istead, we share a common ancestor with them. In other words, humans are directly descended from a Homininae ancestor.
0.3 million years ago to now — Human Beings, i.e., Homo sapiens
(0.3 million years ago to 0.8 or 0.3 years ago — Neanderthals, I.e., Homo neanderthalis)
0.5 million years ago — Heidelberg Man, i.e. Homo heidelbergensis
1.3 million years ago — Upright Man, i.e. Homo erectus
1.5 million years ago — Earliest use of fire
1.6 million years ago — Exit from Africa
2.6 million years ago — Homo habilis
3.4 million years ago — stone tools
3.5 million years ago — Australopithecus.
4.0 million years ago — first bipedal locomotion
4.3 million years ago — Ardipithecus
5.5 million years ago — First Hominini. All the above creatures are Hominini.
5.7 million years abo — Chimpanzees split off from the ancestors below
6.o million years ago — Orronin
7.0 million years ago — Sahelanthropus
8.0 million years ago — Oreopithecus
9.0 million years ago — Ouranopithicus
9.1 million years ago — Gorillas split off from the ancestors below
9.9 million years ago — Nakalipithecus
10.0 million years ago and earlier — Earlier apes
It is important to understand the branched nature of the above categories of primates:
For example —
— Homo erectus had several branches, and we humans are descended from ONE of them.
— Australopithecus had several branches, and Homo erectus was ONE of them.
For more inflormation, most of the primates mentioned above have a Wikipedia entry of their own.
(J.X. Mason is a charitable contributor to Wikimedia)
Here is a list of all the