When people talk about man’s evolution to Homo sapiens, the “wise man” that we are today, I have to chuckle. The theory is that we evolved from Homo habilis (“handy man”) to Homo erectus to Homo ergaster to Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthals) to Homo floresiensis (the hobbit man) and eventually to Homo sapiens.
To answer people who say, “Well why can’t we go down to the zoo and watch monkeys evolve into humans?” I say this… monkeys are and were never in the “homo” genus. Chimpanzees and Homo sapiens split along the evolutionary line some 3 – 5 million years ago. Monkeys and humans are on totally different evolutionary trails, and who’s to say God didn’t intend it that way? It’s physically and biologically impossible, evolution or not, for a monkey to turn into a human today, yesterday, or a million years ago.
To be more specific, chimpanzees, closest to humans by DNA, are class: mammalian; order: primates; primate superfamily: Hominoidea; family: Hominidae (orangutans); subfamily:Homininae (gorillas); tribe: Hominini(chimpanzees);and subtribe:Hominina (humans). Humans fall under the before-noted subtribe of Hominina and genus: Sapiens – distinctly apart from chimpanzees. There are so many other branches in the tree of evolution mentioned above that it would take a book to list and explain them all.
Under the subtribe of Hominina (where we humans are) we have the genera Homo (humans), Paranthropus (extinct), Australopithecus (extinct), Sahelanthropus (extinct), Orrorin (extinct), Ardipithecus (extinct), and Kenyanthropus (extinct). (Interestingly, it is Australopithecus that some people think survived and became what we now know as “Bigfoot” or the “Abominable Snowman”.)
Note that all that’s left under our subtribe of Hominina is us, humans, Homo sapiens. No chimps, no apes, no other Hominina. Just us. We survived. So far at least. Six other Hominina are extinct.
Now here are my two theories. One is that Homo sapiens arose at more points than just in Africa. I suspect that Homo sapiens evolved either simultaneously here in North America OR that humans migrated from North America to Europe. In fact, it has already been discovered that another type of Homo sapiens called Homo sapiens idaltu (see side notes) existed in Africa (although it’s now extinct). Humans are now referred to Homo sapiens sapiens in order to distinguish between the two. Why couldn’t Native Americans have been the first, or among the first, Homo sapiens? There are theories growing even today that we have far underestimated the amount of time Native Americans have been on this continent.
Secondly, I don’t think this is the end of evolution. Something will come after us. Or some things. More Homo species. I leave it to you science fiction writers to imagine what will come after Homo sapiens sapiens. But someone will.