For the last few thousand years, the question has been there. We have been striving to find the answer, and have been so close SO many times! Based on the theory I’m about to propose, I have to wonder if our Paleontologists and Anthropologists are just sitting around with one hand up their butt, and the other holding a PB&J! (No offense to any of you personally, but I have to get the point across in a BIG way).
Let me start by saying that I think you’re looking in entirely the WRONG end of the evolution spectrum for our so-called “missing link.” Think about this…How many fossils of ancient apes have you found compared to fossils of ancient hominins? Why do you think that is? NOT because we evolved from apes, but because apes DEVOLVED from US. The earliest humans had adaptations that allowed them to live between tree and ground, allowing them to be able to hunt and survive (and escape from being EATEN, of course!). At SOME point . . . most of these early people decided to leave the trees altogether, to look for a better and more efficient way to live. The ones who didn’t, could have EASILY stayed in the trees, only going to the ground when absolutely necessary. Over many generations, physical adaptations began to take hold. The ground people lost the opposable toes, their legs lengthened, and they used their hands more for hunting and making tools. By this means, the brain would have also become larger to allow for thinking and communicating better. The tree people who stayed behind, would have grown longer forearms, fingers, and opposable toes, so they could more easily swing from branch to branch. Without the need for thinking about making tools and developing better ways to stay warm, they wound have kept their primative grunts and sounds, and would need more body hair than their ground walking (now bipedal) counterparts (who inevitably ended up losing body hair over time, having no real need of it as they made fire and blankets).
H.G. Wells MAY have been thinking of this when he wrote “The Time Machine.” The man in the story uses his machine to go FAR into the future. There, you find the Eloi (who lived above ground), and the Morlocks (who were more primative and lived in the earth). This would be a great example of devolution, since we know how humans live in OUR time. I believe this is what happened millions of years ago.
Your “missing link” ISN’T a question of “how did apes evolve into humans,” but a question of “WHEN did hominins split and devolve into apes.” I’ve been researching on the internet and through science articles, and while people have come CLOSE to asking this very question, they were never QUITE there. Why is that?
I shall share something with you. It’s a couple of responses to a nature article that I found online:
“012-03-29 12:30 PM
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- EdwardSchaefer said:
- Can we kindly get away from calling every hominin we find an “ancestor”?! This being obviously was not an ancestor, as it lived at a time when the obviously much more closely related Australopithecines were already around and with feet that were much more modern. Fossils are only snapshots of a given place and time, and in the range of 3+ million years ago the hominin fossil record is so sparse that only the most general of statement can be made. We need to realize that we are never seeing the first or the last of anything, nor are we seeing actual ancestors except by luck and often without enough intermediate examples to be sure of it. Instead what we have is the first or last known examples, or the most closely related species knownin the relevant time frame.I do not want to be too down on this find however. It is significant that the Ardipithecines seem to have survived much longer than previously believed. Yet this makes sense to me. It takes time for a new morphology to refine itself to the point that it is able to drive out a competing morphology, with the other morphology being improved on at the same time. Then again, the Ardipithecine morphology was obviously on the way out, given that this is the only example from less than 4 Mya that we have.”
The second response was this:
“2012-06-05 08:46 AM
- Joshua Zambrano said:
- Seems like the evidence for early human bipedality has suddenly gotten very plentiful. In 2001-2003 Sahelanthropus tchadensis1 and Orrorin tugenensis2 got discovered showing evidence of complexity and early bipedality. In 2009, the New York Times reported Homo erectus footprints showed a modern foot3, and Ardi was discovered giving decisive evidence of bipedality.4 In 2011 it was reported that Lucy walked upright after all5, and that the newly discovered A. sediba also walked upright.6And now this.Might I suggest something controversial? Since we’ve only found a grand total of one chimp fossil7 (and that in 2005), perhaps some of these offshoots are in reality just ancient apes – because otherwise, one is hard pressed to explain where the apes were at the time. And given Ardi, S. tchadensis, and O. tugenensis, there’s really no excuse for saying ape-human transitions were around at later dates given how similar those three, ancient hominins were to modern humans.”
(The above was a list of resources the second responder shared to support his thoughts)
If you would like to read the article, I am providing you with the source website:
Ok, so I went into “mad scientist” mode for a moment, but hey, I hope I was able to at least PARTIALLY enlighten you! 🙂