Talk:How come there are still monkeys?/Archive1

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How come there are still fish?[edit]

One could just as pointlessly ask: "How come there are still fish?". Or come back with the question: "Why shouldn't there be monkeys?" and watch as the creationist shows his utter lack of understanding of evolution.--BobSpring is sprung! 14:43, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

And what's the deal with single-celled organisms, anyway? did they not get the memo? P-Foster (talk) 14:45, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Indeed. Why anything other than human beings?--BobSpring is sprung! 14:47, 13 April 2010 (UTC)


On a more serious note, shouldn't we mention that humans are apes rather than monkeys? I can't quite see where to fit it in though.--BobSpring is sprung! 14:58, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

Not only did we come from monkeys, we still are monkeys.
But most people probably don't need to know that... — Sincerely, Neveruse / Talk / Block 15:01, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Humans are apes: the genus Homo is in the superfamily Hominoidea. Apes (including humans) are in the same "clade" with the Old World Monkeys (Catarrhini). The New World Monkeys (Platyrrhini) are equally distant from (for example) humans, gibbons, and baboons. So, if there is a clade of monkeys, which contains both baboons and howler monkeys, then it also contains the apes. In other words: apes are monkeys. And that kind of detail, which "most people probably don't need to know", is why I classified that answer as a "troublesome answer". It's true that humans are apes and old world monkeys, and monkeys, and it doesn't pose any difficulty for the evolutionary ancestry of humans, but it is going beyond the attention span of a creationist. (It's like saying that ostriches and whales are fish, because they both are in any clade which contains both sharks and tunas.) TomS TDotO (talk) 16:23, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
I see that monkeys and apes are in Catarrhini, but the WP article shows old world monkeys and apes as being seperate families within seperate superfamilies. Is this the same as saying "apes are monkeys"? But I make no claim to any specialist knowledge on this subject and any information would be welcome.--BobSpring is sprung! 17:04, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
If the only monkeys around were the Old World monkeys (taking baboons as an example), then the situation would be different. But there are also the New World monkeys (example: howler monkeys). Baboons are more closely related to gibbons than they are related to howler monkeys. Any category of "monkeys" would presumably contain both the Old World monkeys and the New World monkeys. So, it would be reasonable for the category of all monkeys to contain all the animals which are at least as closely related to the baboons as the howler monkeys are - and the gibbons (and all the rest of the apes) are more closely related to the baboons than the howler monkeys are. WP says, "Note that the smallest grouping that contains them all [that is, all of the monkeys] is the Simiiformes, the simians, which also contains the apes." It goes on to say that it is "incorrect" to say that apes are monkeys, even though. I am no authority, but I'm sure that I could dig up a reference to challenge that. But I'm not going to get into that fight. All I am going to say here is that some reasonable people can say that apes are monkeys; and that if someone says that, they are going to have to explain a lot; and that it is a distraction of no importance to fight over whether apes (and more particularly, humans) are monkeys. And that is why I call it a "troublesome" answer.

Maybe, on second thought, "distracting" would be a better word. Or maybe somebody has a better way of saying what I wanted to say, which is something like this: "Let's not fight over a semantic question when we all agree that humans are related to monkeys by having common ancestry." TomS TDotO (talk) 17:53, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

Well, yes - but on that basis you could say: "all humans are related to hedgehogs by having a common ancestor".--BobSpring is sprung! 18:10, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
The important difference is that there is a taxonomic group of animals which contains all hedgehogs but does not contain humans. This is a principle of "cladistics", that the only proper clade is one which contain all of such-and-such, and which contains all of the things which are at least as closely related as any in that clade. (Or, to put it in evolutionary terms, all of those things, and only those things, which share a common ancestor.) One can distinguish between hedgehogs and humans by drawing a line around the hedgehogs and their relatives which excludes the humans and their relatives. But one cannot draw such a line around the monkeys (that is, both the old world monkeys and the new world monkeys) which excludes the humans. (Nor, by the way, can one draw a line around the apes which includes the chimps, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans and gibbons, but excludes the humans.) Again, I want to emphasize that: I may be mistaken about this, but a lot of people would agree with it, and a lot of people would disagree with it; and whether or not one agrees with it, it has no impact on the factuality of evolution, or the reality of humans and monkeys sharing ancestors; and therefore it is a distraction to "how come there are still monkeys". I've seen a lot of discussions about "how come there are still monkeys" and far too often has the discussion gone off on this tangent. TomS TDotO (talk) 09:55, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Logic and research continues to persuade me that humans are not monkeys.
  • I agree there is an infraorder Simiiformes (simians) which includes all monkeys apes and humans. Within this grouping there is a parvorder New World Monkeys and a Parvorder Catarrhini which includes a Superfamily Cercopithecoidea which includes Old World Monkeys. It also includes the superfamily Hominoidea which includes our family of humans and apes. But humans are not included in either of the families for either old or new world monkeys. As humans are not included in either family "monkey" they are not monkeys.
  • To put it another way: although all monkeys are simians, not all simians are monkeys.
  • One of the main differences between monkeys and apes is brachiation - the ability to swing from you arms. Apes can do this whereas monkeys typically run along the tops of branches. Therefore humans are apes and not monkeys.
  • And, my final clinching argument. The librarian, of Diskworld fame, is an orangutan and therefore an ape. He becomes pathologically upset if he is called a monkey.--BobSpring is sprung! 15:19, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
If "monkey" is a monophyletic clade, then humans are monkeys. But to avoid having humans in the "monkey" taxon, one could say that there is no such thing as a monkey taxon, or one could claim that the demand of monophyly is too restrictive, and that there are perfectly good taxons which are not. Examples of non-monophyletic taxons would be:
  • Pisces: the obsolete order of fish, which includes what are today different orders, WP:Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fish, that is, sharks and rays and others) and WP:Osteichthyes (bony fish, the vast majority of fish), but not including the terrestrial vertebrates
  • Reptilia: the reptiles, including turtles, crocodiles, and lizards, but not including birds or mammals
  • Dinosauria: the non-avian dinosaurs
  • Pongidae: the obsolete family of non-human great apes
  • Vegetables: including tomatoes and potatoes but not including apples (OK, I'm going outside of taxonomy :)
Would the librarian be comfortable with the idea that the word "monkey" is not a taxon? There are old-world monkeys and new-world monkeys, but there are no "monkeys"? Would the baboons take it ill if they were told that they are not monkeys?
Anyway, I think that my main point has been rather well made: It is ill-advised for a supporter of evolution to raise the issue of whether humans are descendants of monkeys. TomS TDotO (talk) 16:21, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
But the link you provide starts off by saying:
In common cladistic usage, a monophyletic group is a taxon (group of organisms) which forms a clade, meaning that it consists of an ancestor and all its descendants.
As I am sure you are not going to argue that humans evolved from the modern families of either new or old world monkeys, I'm not sure what difference it makes.
And why should I argue that there is no such thing as a monkey taxon? There are two groups of monkeys: old world and new world - and humans are part of neither. --BobSpring is sprung! 16:30, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Old world monkeys are so different from new world monkeys that it might be a bad idea to use the same word for both of them. But let's not bring up still another issue.

(OK, it was me who brought it up - I shouldn't have.)

I don't know what you mean by asking what difference it makes. I think that the whole topic is a matter of semantics. My whole point is that it doesn't make any difference. TomS TDotO (talk) 17:08, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
My point is that as humans didn't evolve from the modern animal "the monkey" (old or new) talking about a monophyletic group - which includes an ancestor and it's descendants is irrelevant. We both evolved from something older, but it makes as much sense to say that monkeys evolved from proto-humans as it makes to say humans evolved from proto-monkeys. And in either event it doesn't make humans monkeys (or monkeys humans).--BobSpring is sprung! 17:22, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
The problem seems to be with the conflation of definitions for "monkey". Colloquially, we're not monkeys. Scientifically..."monkey" isn't exactly a scientific word, but if it has to be, it refers to haplorrhines with traits we have (two nips, swinging dick, big brains, etc). I think the "troublesome answers" section is pretty accurate. — Sincerely, Neveruse / Talk / Block 18:17, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
we are descended from an ape-like ancestor and not from monkeys. That eases all the fears and is socially acceptable. We are more distantly related to monkeys , wombats , bananas and passion fruit. It might be best to gloss over the fact that your lawn is distantly related , as is the Ebola virus and syphilis. The relationship is such that they dont get invited to the family picnic. Hamster (talk) 03:27, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, we omitted the Ebola virus and the wombat at our last picnic. We always take special care of uncle lawn.  Lily Inspirate me. 03:55, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

What the whuh[edit]

Really, anyone asking this question is not going to understand any of these answers, they should be killed immediately as the evident result of a blighted ovum. Is there any evidence of anyone asking such a thing being convinced of the error of the question? Over the age of, say, twelve - David Gerard (talk) 00:15, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

I recall the rejoinder when I brought up "... why are there still Europeans?": "That's different." And I have to admit that I was silenced by that. TomS TDotO (talk) 09:49, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
I have been posting this link to my twatter and arsebook as a prime example of why RationalWiki is uniquely useful: SPOV with SPOV, to give blithering obnoxious stupidity the reaction it inspires - David Gerard (talk) 12:07, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, this is definitely the sort of thing RW should excel at. However, I have seen the question asked in all seriousness, although not out of stupidity but out of innocent ignorance. So this can be used to set straight some misconceptions and I do feel a little bad for insulting people who genuinely just don't know because it was either never taught to them or they can't figure it out. However, when people still use it as a serious point in a proper anti-evolution context, it is retarded and needs to be exposed as such with the full force of mockery that we can bring. Scarlet A.pngtheist 12:17, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Well, we have a better answer than which is pretty hashed together Scarlet A.pngtheist 12:56, 18 April 2010 (UTC)


Metro, Tue 20 Apr 2010, Metro Mail: Send us your txt, p42:

If humans are descended from apes why are there still apes around? Shouldn't they all be human now? - Puzzled, Paisley

I nearly started banging my head on the Tube train floor right there on the Victoria Line. Come on - which of you was it?

I don't have yesterday's to hand, but someone replied that humans actually came from Portsmouth, which is why they have no fans left - David Gerard (talk) 11:49, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

Big Brother[edit]

Stephen Baldwin actually said this in the UK Celebrity Big Brother house this year. It was a severe facepalm moment. CrundyTalk nerdy to me 11:59, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

What was the reaction? - David Gerard (talk) 12:00, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
Can't remember the discussion, but it was along the lines of "Are you a creationist?" "No" "Do you believe in evolution?" "No I don't" "Why not?" "Because if we evolved from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?" and then the discussion went elsewhere. I think everyone just ignored the monkey comment. I'll try and find a transcript. CrundyTalk nerdy to me 12:08, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
OW OW OW FUCK *bang*bang*bang*bang*bang* There, that soft and comfy desk has made my head feel much better after reading that. I see from Wackypedia that he was pissing off the others by preaching at them - David Gerard (talk) 12:14, 22 April 2010 (UTC)
I think the video is on here but it's blocked in the UK. Channel 4 are quite snappy when it comes to YouTube copyright. CrundyTalk nerdy to me 12:11, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

a serious point - evolution not taught in USA[edit]

from some of the vids on you tube it seems that from 1930s to ??? evolution was not taught in schools in the USA. Is there still a group of adults who did NOT learn this in school ? Hamster (talk) 04:08, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

This is outside my realm of experience, but I guess many of them homskolars weren't learned it. Also, I don't actually remember being taught it myself in the UK but then I only did one year of biology. I guess I just absorbed it from books, magazines and TV documentaries. It only seems to have become an issue with the rise of these hard-line evangelical sects and the woolly-minded C of E hasn't really rocked the boat about it.  Lily Inspirate me. 04:24, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
found a source that said evolution started to be taught again in the 1960s. Thats a bit before my time but anyone age 55 or younger should have certainly seen it. I didnt get it in high school either. Just picked it up from various magazines. Hamster (talk) 05:15, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
I picked up a lot from, um, magazines when I was a teenager... ħumanUser talk:Human 05:56, 24 April 2010 (UTC)
Lawd bless antibiotics, I say.  Lily Inspirate me. 06:52, 24 April 2010 (UTC)


I have bronzed this. How close do people think it is to silver? - David Gerard (talk) 22:05, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

Needs an illustration of a monkey or monkeys with some kind of witty caption. I also recommend removing the tumbleweed section - it's a weak lazy joke that gets overused. WẽãšẽĩõĩďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 23:02, 3 June 2010 (UTC) ? -- Nx / talk 23:09, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
We use to have something like that on the Humanzee article, but it got taken away as childish and unfunny. - π 23:13, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

Monkeys aren't the only ones![edit]

Yet another misconception/deception can be found at [1]These creationists types don't get the message, do they?--Thedoctor80 (talk) 17:17, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Humans are not monkeys[edit]

Wikipedia and other sites have some helpful charts, but scientists do not consider apes to be a subset of monkeys, or vice versa. Both are part of the Order Primates. They are considered two separate clades within the order. We are not doing rationality any favors by making the claim that humans count as monkeys. Taxonomically, we don't. *EDIT: Humans fall in the Family Hominidae, the great apes, along with chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. The great apes, along with the gibbons, or lesser apes, form the Superfamily Hominoidea. Hominoidea, along with the Superfamily Cercopithecoidea (Old World monkeys), forms the Parvorder Catarrhini, which, along with the Parvorder Platyrrhini (New World monkeys), forms the Infraorder Simiiformes. At no point along this path are apes categorized as monkeys. ShorinBJ (talk) 17:41, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

But how is this relevant to the evolutionary straw man that the article discusses? In this case "monkey" is being used as just an informal term. Humans are still within classifications that include apes, monkeys and so on that makes the point relevant to the article, even if semantic pedantry says it's not entirely accurate. ADK...I'll exterminate your virus! 18:05, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

(ec):so I'm no biologist, but I'm pretty sure it goes something like

  • primates
    • monkeys
    • apes
we, humans, refer to apes as monkeys all the time. it's similar to the word "bug." Does it cover crustaceans as well as insects and arachnids? Besides, you're nitpicking. the point remains the same.--brxbrx-brxbrx 18:07, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
You might want to look at the previous parts of this talkpage. Humans are not monkeys.--BobSpring is sprung! 18:13, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
again, layman's terms: monkey is fine.--brxbrx-brxbrx 18:51, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

I'm not a biologist either, but neither monkeys nor apes is considered a subset of the other. Both are simians, which are part of the Order Primates along with prosimians. As for the "layman's terms" excuse, I read a novel in which minks were repeatedly referred to as rodents. They're not even close to being rodents (they're related to canines, felines, and ursines). Should we mince terms to say why they should be considered rodents? The point isn't irrelevant. If humans are not monkeys (which they're not), then responding to a Creationist that they are is an error. How does this make us the smart/rational ones? The paragraph attempts to draw a line, taxonomically, to humans being monkeys. They are considered two separate groups of animals, like dolphins and whales, two very similar groups that a layman might lump together. A muskrat is not a rat, a mink is not a rodent, a koala bear is not a bear, an orca is not a whale, and an ape is not a monkey. Look them up. ShorinBJ (talk) 20:37, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

Side note: The difference is 29 to 34.5 million years of evolution. That's when apes split off from old world monkeys according to genetic analyses. ShorinBJ (talk) 20:53, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

This discussion goes to show what this section of the article says, that this is a "troublesome" reply. Some people say, in response to "If humans are descended from monk", that humans are monkeys. Other people say that "humans are not monkeys". And this is between people who agree on the facts of evolution. You can see why it is mischief-making to bring this up. It isn't a disagreement on facts - as the article says, it is a "semantic" difference. Obviously, this section of the article needs to make that point more forcefully, but I don't know how. TomS TDotO (talk) 10:59, 2 May 2011 (UTC)

Semantics? Only if saying dogs are not cats is a semantic difference. We're slightly more closely related to monkeys than dogs are to cats. According to accepted taxonomic relationships, apes are not monkeys. And the new version of that section is incredibly convoluted. I'm changing it back.

I tried to get across the idea of this section, which is, as I understand it, that there are a couple of common replies given by those who accept evolution which cause needless controversy. You seem to agree that these replies cause controversy. I suggest that to ignore the controversy is not a way of addressing it. It is an undisputed fact that some supporters of evolution give these answers. You, it seems, wish that they didn't, and think that not to mention it is going to make it go away. I think that the way to treat it is to bring it out in the open. TomS TDotO (talk) 10:54, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps you could have made your idea a bit more clear. My understanding was that it was a suggested answer to give the hypothetical Creationist, albeit one that might lead into sticky territory. The article seemed to say that humans are monkeys as though this were actually the case, rather than being an incorrect statement that people sometimes give. You are invited to inject some clarity. ShorinBJ (talk) 17:19, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

Obviously, it could have been stated more clearly, but I don't know how. For example, I most definitely did not say that it is incorrect. I said that people using the principles of cladism point out that if there is such a thing as a clade of monkeys, then apes are included in that clade; and if there is such a thing as a clade of apes, then humans are in that clade; and therefore "humans are monkeys". Every common ancestor of Old World monkeys and New World monkeys is also an ancestor of humans. But one can disagree with the principles of cladism, or one can say that there is no clade of monkeys, and still accept the facts about human ancestry. I said that people can agree or disagree with that statement and still agree about the facts. But that is, obviously, not clear enough. TomS TDotO (talk) 17:40, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
I thought cladistics was a mainstream thing? Occasionaluse (talk) 17:46, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
Tom. You say:
  • "I said that people using the principles of cladism point out that if there is such a thing as a clade of monkeys, then apes are included in that clade;"
Could you give a reference for this statement?--BobSpring is sprung! 17:57, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
You see, this is exactly why it's marked as "troublesome". ADK...I'll admonish your queen! 18:06, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
What does Haplorrhini mean to you, Bob? Occasionaluse (talk) 18:07, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
What does it mean to you?--BobSpring is sprung! 18:08, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
What if I answer your questions with questions? Occasionaluse (talk) 18:10, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
I won't really care.--BobSpring is sprung! 18:12, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
Haplorrhines are monkeys. Getting polyphyletic and saying "happlorrhines are monkeys and apes" seems like a Freudian admission. Why aren't we monkeys? Is it personal? Occasionaluse (talk) 18:15, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
So you maintain that the clade "haplorrhini" should be called the clade "monkey"?--BobSpring is sprung! 18:17, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
Do you even accept that humans are apes? Occasionaluse (talk) 18:18, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
Of course they are apes. That is what the debate is about. Do you maintain that the clade "haplorrhini" should be called the clade "monkey"?--BobSpring is sprung! 18:21, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
Do you maintain that paraphyletic groups in phylogeny are superior classifications to monophyletics in cladistics??? Occasionaluse (talk) 18:23, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
It's not something which I've given a great deal of thought to. By the way, do you maintain that the clade "haplorrhini" should be called the clade "monkey"?--BobSpring is sprung! 18:27, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
I'd probably have to go with Simiiformes as being the monkey clad. I'm not up on the tarsier=monkey debate. Are you saying everything in simiiformes except humans are monkeys? Does that sound like a good classification to you? Occasionaluse (talk) 18:31, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
From the video I posted a year ago, in cladistics "Existing branches split into successive subsets that are each monophyletic, sharing a common line of descent from which they can diverge, but never detach. This means snakes will always be a subset of lizards and apes would still be monkeys." If you don't accept that, I don't believe you accept cladistics. If you don't accept cladistics, I don't think your opinion really matters, at least not with respect to modern taxonomy. Occasionaluse (talk) 18:40, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

I think I'll wait for Tom to answer my original question and stop filling Recent Changes.--BobSpring is sprung! 18:43, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

The question itself implies that you don't accept cladistics. Stuck in your ways, old man? Occasionaluse (talk) 18:48, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
guise, try enhanced recent changes.--brxbrx-brxbrx 19:25, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

Humans and monkeys are both simians. Simians are called simians, not monkeys. Supposing we call the common ancestor of all Simiiformes a monkey, and we accept your idea that everything descended from that form must also be a monkey, then birds can be called dinosaurs. For that matter, all vertebrates can be called fish. ShorinBJ (talk) 23:50, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

Some indisputable facts:
Among the people who accept the relationship by common descent of humans and other primates, some say that humans are monkeys.
Among the people who accept the relationship by common descent of humans and other primates, some say that humans are not monkeys.
These two groups argue with one another.
My opinion:
It doesn't help to respond to "How come there are still monkeys?" by arguing over this non-issue.
Does this make what I said any clearer? Probably not. TomS TDotO (talk) 11:41, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Evolutionists attack creationists for getting science wrong, sloppy thinking, etc., etc. Then the evolutionists go and do it themselves. If it's okay for an evolutionist, it must be okay for creationists too; if it's not okay for creationists, it isn't okay for evolutionists either. Humans aren't descended from monkeys, it's just sloppy thinking that says they are. And that's true whichever side of the creation-evolution debate you are on. --(((Zack Martin))) 11:57, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

If you want to have a "monkey clade", that clade is the simiiformes. There's no fucking argument. People arguing this bullshit don't understand cladistics. The more I think about it, it's not worth explaining. In your definition of "monkey" and in your taxonomic classifications, we're not monkeys. Congratulations, you're on the dusty edge of evolutionary biology. Occasionaluse (talk) 14:36, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Good post! Rationalize (talk) 14:56, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
This section of the article points out that bringing up whether or not humans are monkeys causes pointless debates about the meaning of the word "monkey". Some people then object to this by engaging in pointless debates about the meaning of the word "monkey". TomS TDotO (talk) 10:39, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
We should all be able to agree that humans/monkeys/apes are all simians and ignore that simian is latin for monkey. Occasionaluse (talk) 14:56, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Would we be having this discussion if the title was phrased "how come there are still apes?". We need to ignore the specific semantics, as Tom points out, and wonder what the question is actually asking and what this answer means. ADK...I'll suck your apple juice! 15:05, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Probably not. I think the question, in the context of RationalWiki, is a semantic one. I don't think it's unreasonable to preface our answers with the various definitions of "monkey". I also don't believe it's outside the scope of this article to mention the pitfalls/criticisms of paraphyletics and praise cladistics. Occasionaluse (talk) 15:14, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Maybe there should be a totally new article with the title "Humans are/are not monkeys/apes". It can go on at length about how, if "monkey" is a monophyletic clade, and if baboons and howler monkeys belong to the monkey clade, then so do all species of apes, and, in particular, all species (Homo erectus, Homo sapiens", Homo neanderthalensis, and so on) of humans. It can also go on about how if "monkey" is not a monophyletic clade, then it doesn't make any difference that baboons and howler monkeys are both species of monkey; and how, in particular, if "monkey" only refers to extant species, then it is not a monophyletic clade. It can also point out that Pisces was abandoned as a class, the class of fishes. (Are whales - and giraffes, and ostriches, and toads - "fishes"? They are if both tunas and sharks are fishes, eh?) Likewise with "reptile". It can go on at length about stuff that is just distracting from the creationists' puzzlement about how come there are still monkeys. TomS TDotO (talk) 16:09, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
"apes are monkeys, because there is no clade which contains baboons and howler monkeys (both undisputed monkeys) which does not also include apes; and therefore humans are monkeys." Following this logic, there is no clade that contains lemurs and tarsiers (both prosimians) that does not also contain monkeys and apes, and therefore monkeys and apes are prosimians. Except prosimians are defined as those primates that are not monkeys or apes. Prosimians are "lower primates" and simians are "higher primates." A species really can't be both. ShorinBJ (talk) 06:19, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
Congratulations, you have just shown there is no semantic dispute. Oh wait, you haven't - David Gerard (talk) 08:43, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
I wish that I could think of a way of phrasing the point of this section to make it clear that to bring up either of the two arguments mentioned is only to distract from the misunderstanding of the creationists. The point of this section is not to support these arguments (or to refute them, either), but only to tell those who accept the relationship by common descent of humans, chimps, baboons, and howler monkeys, that these arguments will only start a dispute (like the one we're seeing here) about semantics, increase confusion, and thereby support creationism. Please don't use these arguments. Not because they are wrong, but because they are not helpful in response to the creationist question. TomS TDotO (talk) 11:57, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
Just define "monkey" as anything with a penis and we're sorted. ADK...I'll pasteurize your entropy! 13:30, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
My dog is a monkey. --(((Zack Martin))) 13:40, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
It is intuitively obvious that your dog is an ape - David Gerard (talk) 14:26, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

Okay, so from a monophyletic point of view, the only way there can be a monkey clade is if apes count as monkeys. If apes are monkeys, all members of the Infraorder Simiiformes are monkeys. Except those members already have a name: simians. Either monkey is a layman's term that has no scientific basis, or we accept a paraphyletic viewpoint in which all simians that are not apes are monkeys. Either way, apes are NOT monkeys. Humans are not monkeys, from either a monophyletic or paraphyletic point of view. ShorinBJ (talk) 17:19, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

You are totally boring the crap out of me now. ADK...I'll enumerate your Nintendo 64! 19:40, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

It's not true that "Either monkey is a layman's term that has no scientific basis, or we accept a paraphyletic viewpoint in which all simians that are not apes are monkeys."

There has always been an obvious vernacular sense of "monkey" that was inclusive of apes. In most languages, the usual word for monkey does not exclude apes, and it didn't in English until well into the 20th century. In 1910, it was common not just for laypeople but for for scientists studying primates to use the term in that intuitively obvious inclusive sense, which fits very well with the scientific facts.

What went wrong is that between 1910 and 1950, scientists and educators decided to exclude apes from monkeys for no good reason at all, and make apes "not monkeys" (in English) by gerrymandered definition.

That was a bad move, going against the grain of both evolutionary theory and the visually obvious fact that an ape is some kind of "monkey." The common people tend to get that right, if you don't define it as "wrong."

It would be fine to reserve the term "monkey" for the two clades that are called "monkeys" in so-called "correct" English, but only if there was a vernacular word for the obviously important clade---the simians---to replace the natural word "monkey" in vernacular discussions.

Very few people know the word "simian," partly because it's so hard to explain why we don't just call simians "monkeys" and be done with it. It's hard to explain because there isn't a good scientific reason for it. There's no good scientific reason to not to call apes monkeys, just a relatively recent but entrenched terminological rule that we shouldn't say that. Apes are the monkeys (simians) that we mustn't call monkeys.

It's stupid to tell people that "apes aren't monkeys" or that apes and monkeys share a common ancestor that "wasn't a monkey" without explaining this---that the common ancestor was only "not a monkey" as a matter of obscure definition, not as a matter of interesting scientific fact.

By any reasonable standard, the nearest common ancestor of all simians was clearly a monkey. It was a simian, and not especially ape-like---it presumably had a tail, was arboreal, wasn't especially brainy, etc. It might have been a little bit more ape-like in some way than your average extant monkey, but cledarlyt wasn't an ape yet, and was therefore still a monkey, even by the rule that "monkey" means "a simian and not an ape."

It's hard to get any monkeyer than being the nearest common ancestor of all monkeys---the actual center of the monkey radiation, more closely related to all monkeys than any other monkey---and not being an ape.

It's absolutely wrong to tell people that we descended from apes, but did not descend from monkeys, without explaining that those are two entirely different kinds of statements. In the sense that the former is true, the latter is false. One is a scientific statement about what we actually descended from---extinct apes---and the other is a statement about an arbitrary, poorly motivated, confusing naming convention. (I.e., extinct simians we refrain from calling "monkeys" only because their descendants include apes.) — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Good points. I'm at the point where I'm no longer willing to hear from people who believe "people are not monkeys". They're either idiots or trying to weasel around a meaningless distinction. Occasionaluse (talk) 18:04, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
A number of people object to saying that humans are descended from monkeys because humans are not descended from any of the modern monkeys. (Nor from modern apes, either. Or, for that matter, not from modern non-human mammals, vertebrates, ... ) "Ape" is a word with far older roots in English, and the only non-human primates known to English speakers were Old-World monkeys. And New-World monkeys became known to English-speakers before gorillas, orang-utans, chimps and gibbons (and before lemurs and so on). I think that the relationship between humans and other primates is a highly emotional one, and we have to be careful. TomS TDotO (talk) 11:22, 23 October 2011 (UTC)

Monkeys persist[edit]

... so they can play around with all the decommissioned typewriters in the eventual expectation of producing 'a text more intelligent than anything produced by Creationists.' (talk) 18:15, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

How come[edit]

Creationists still exist? (talk) 18:25, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

Because human stupidity is forever. Rationalize (talk) 14:20, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Broken arm example[edit]

"* If you fall off your bicycle, causing you to break your arm and sustain a concussion, the broken arm was not caused by the concussion." I don't understand this example at all. Did it actually enlighten a creationist? - David Gerard (talk) 09:00, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

Fucking semantics[edit]

Please, defining "monkey" is so far out of the ball park of "how come there are still monkeys?" that it's not even remotely the same division, league, or even the same ball game any more. Can we scap all references to defining a monkey? We wouldn't have this if the article was titled "if we evolved from fish, why are there still fish?", which is an identical point. ADK...I'll receive your chiffon! 16:58, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

I no longer have the will to continue with this one. But yes, fish would be a better example.--BobSpring is sprung! 18:29, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
The monkeys/apes & old world vs new world thing seems a bit of a pointless diversion. People often refer to chimpanzees or orangoutangs colloquially as monkeys, although in fact they are apes, & I suspect that anyone making the "how come there are still monkeys?" argument is probably counting apes within this phrase as well as monkeys. WėąṣėḷőįďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel
I might rebuild this from the ground up sometime today, pissing about with cladistics and labels can go elsewhere. ADK...I'll condense your xenomorph! 08:46, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
So often the semantic question comes up, that maybe there is no way that one can avoid it. Maybe a section entitled "Semantics, semantics, semantics", with an intro and apology? Something like: "For those who like to argue semantics, here is the necessary hair-splitting." TomS TDotO (talk) 10:49, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
Sounds good to me. Instead of saying "it's like this" point out the views of each and let the viewer decide.--BobSpring is sprung! 11:25, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
God, this is so fucking absurd. The point we're trying to get across remains the same whether we say apes, monkeys, simians, reptoids, wookies, or whatever species Steve Tyler belongs to. Monkeys is the term people use when making this argument, monkeys is the term we shall use to refute it. You're boring everybody by obsessing over this rather trivial issue.--User:Brxbrx/sig 11:40, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree that it is absurd. Yet, every time I have heard a discussion about "how come there are still monkeys", I have heard two supporters of evolution get into an argument over the semantics. It won't go away. TomS TDotO (talk) 12:07, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
I would say "if the definition of monkey bothers you, you've missed the point completely". ADK...I'll bake your guillotine! 12:08, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
In an earlier discussion somewhere up above, I wrote:
This section of the article points out that bringing up whether or not humans are monkeys causes pointless debates about the meaning of the word "monkey". Some people then object to this by engaging in pointless debates about the meaning of the word "monkey". TomS TDotO (talk) 13:53, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
This is true, though - somewhat ironically - it then might then depend on the definition of the repeated word "pointless". It seems then that we should then present the two arguments:
  • Humans are not "monkeys"
  • humans are, in some sense, "monkeys".
both could be explored without giving a definitive "Rationalwiki" answer.--BobSpring is sprung! 22:52, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

And if there weren't monkeys ...[edit]

... then the humans could replace them.[2] - David Gerard (talk) 19:12, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

Hmmm, the idea of evolving out of sentience. You know that never occurred to me, but I would wager it would never happen in practice because a sentient species is more likely to go extinct than just evolve onwards. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 19:27, 5 November 2011 (UTC)


We say under Disappearance of ancestors:

  • it's rare that speciation occurs without populations being separated

I don't think that this is quite right. Or I don't think it's right if we are only talking about geographical separation which the context seems to imply. Evolution can also occur if species are temporally separated although they occupy the same geographical territory.--BobSpring is sprung! 16:30, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

It does say "rare", not never. Redchuck.gif ГенгисOur ignorance is God; what we know is science.Moderator 17:10, 2 February 2012 (UTC)
There is a word for spontaneous speciation but I've forgotten about it... anyway, that's rare, and some kind of separation is usually needed. For instance plant species either side of roads or even the Great Wall of China often find themselves diversifying because pollen can't travel as effectively between groups. Actual speciation is usually more difficult, but it's a sliding scale as always. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 18:23, 2 February 2012 (UTC)
@Armondikov. I'm not saying that separation is not necessary. I'm saying that that separation could be temporal - across time rather than across distance.
@Genghis ("rare" - Even then I'm not sure that I'd agree. A species can stay in the same geographical situation but be subject to different environmental factors or a different predictor/prey regime which would drive evolution. Presumably it would work more slowly as you might have a bigger gene pool to adapt than you would have in a small isolated population. In the "in situ" case, however, one would obviously expect the ancestral form to disappear, which might not be the case if evolution occurred in a small isolated group.--BobSpring is sprung! 18:32, 2 February 2012 (UTC)
Allopatric speciation is speciation at different locations. Sympatric is speciation at the same location. TomS TDotO (talk) 11:28, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
That's the one! Cheers. I'll forget later, undoubtedly. Scarlet A.pngnarchist 11:32, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
Interesting, but that's still not the point I'm making. Sympatric speciation refers to speciation occurring when there is no reproductive barrier between the two proto-species.
The point I am making - and I think that perhaps it's so obvious that it's being missed - is that a single species can transform itself into a species which is no longer able to mate with its own remote ancestor without changing its geographical location. If there is some environmental driver for a species to evolve it will do so as long as the environmental changes is not greater then the "adaptive speed" of the species.
It is obviously much easier for us to look at two presently-living species which have adapted to different environments and estimate their ancestral forms.
At the risk of beating the point to death, a species may move to another location and evolve to fit the new environmental conditions - or a species may stay where it is but find that new environmental conditions have descended upon it and be obliged to evolve to cope with them. --BobSpring is sprung! 13:12, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
Are you thinking of anagenesis? TomS TDotO (talk) 13:21, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
Looking at the wikipedia entry that would be the name for what I have described above, and it confirms that geographical branching events are not necessarily a prerequisite for speciation. Time alone can work as the species separator.--BobSpring is sprung! 15:24, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
OK, I think I've edited it non-contentiously.--BobSpring is sprung! 16:41, 9 February 2012 (UTC)


What's missing to silver this? (Indeed, what's missing to gold it?) - David Gerard (talk) 08:34, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

No objections to silver? - David Gerard (talk) 11:24, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
Go ahead. ТyAhoy! 13:41, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
So, how come there are still bronze articles? Sophiebecause liberals 17:03, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
'Cos copper disappeared - David Gerard (talk) 20:25, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
Unrated articles evolved to replace them. Scarlet A.pngsshole 23:02, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

Suggestion about tone[edit]

Rational wiki is written predominantly by well educated, science-loving types. So when we see someone ask a question like "why are there still monkees", we tend to mock and scorn. "god, you are so stupid you don't even understand basic science". The problem is, these people are not stupid they are simply ignorant - science is not logical if you don't know the facts. Everythign around us that our eyes and ears see and hear says that "if a thing changes, the original is gone". we turn batter into cakes; playdough lumps into little people. So it's a veyr real thing to say "well wait, if they all became X, then why do we still have W". It bothers me that rather than actually understanding that the vast majority of people who do not believe in evolution are simply confused, we mock them. "this is the single most stupid comment you will face". It's not a stupid comment, it's one of "I don't get it". Rather than telling parents, and "go about their daily life" voters who just don't know the facts that they are too stupid for words to believe in creationism, isn't it better to just give them facts and educate them? I get that people at CMI are being deliberatly stubborn. But THEY WIN this debate with the average joe, cause they start by emphaizing. "I know, huh... it's crazy that man came from ape", and then feed those people's mind with mush. Isn't it better to say "I get that it sounds sorta crazy, cause it isn't taught well in highschool, but let me see if i can explain it..." I dont' know, this is the third article this am i've seen that basically calls arguments by creationists "dumb", which is true and i get it - but at the same time, just mocks and doesn't ever really address the issues, like a grown up, to another grownup who is just ignorant of the facts and of science. Pink mowse.pngGodot What do cats dream about? 16:18, 30 March 2012 (UTC)

Actually, I think this a good idea. With the cleaning up this site is getting recently, I think it might be useful to think about these articles too. Of course, not to make them any less fun, but because the wiki seems to be gaining more of a focus on education rather than spite, informing people who need answers like this definately would be a better thing to do than just mocking them. I mean, it's OK to mock the ideas (especially because there are people are actively NOT letting this kind of logic get out there, such as people who want evolution out of schools, etc) but certainly not the average joe who believes them. Nine times out of ten, being uninformed isn't really their fault. It's just that superstars who are expected to be informed and are not are incredibly visible and tend to color our perceptions of these opinions. Like politicians not understanding these concepts that would be taught at high school or even lower level. Or supposed Harvard law graduates that-- OK, let's not go down that path. ±Knightoftldrsig.pngKnightOfTL;DRmore at 11 16:28, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
But sometimes it is difficult to treat these questions seriously. How would you respond to somebody who claimed the moon was made of cheese? Still, that may well be my own social bias.
So, what would be some alternative, less "mocking", ways of responding to this rather silly question?--Bob"What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." 16:40, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
I just cleaned out a lot of the "you are stupid" stuff and the rest is better off without it. The "joking answers" should stay, IMO - David Gerard (talk) 16:57, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
Obligatory Scarlet A.pngpostate 19:36, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
OH i think they definitely should stay. I don't mean to suggest we can't have fun, and there are tons (just look at the editors of CMI) of people who need to be mocked for just insisting that dumb shit is true. But at the same time, we should remember that most of the common questions, like "information - how can that be enhanced" or "I don't understand how we know, if no one was there", are often legitimate questions USED AND ABUSED by the Creationists. "information" is the one i'm seeing more and more. I know mom and pop did not make it up, but they read it out there at CMI and AIG and say "oh, yes, that is a good question. how can a simple being become more complex". and they dont' know the answer. and it *feels* as if the creationists are right. (mostly, cause the question is not framed well, but CMI types KNOW that, and USE it).Pink mowse.pngGodot What do cats dream about? 17:03, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
It was a lot worse a while back, I remember toning it down to "wait, people might genuinely not know" rather than "oh, you'll bang your head against the wall!!!111 LOLZZ!!". I feel the need to keep reminding people the difference between ignorance and willful ignorance. Scarlet A.pngtheist 19:32, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
I certainly agree that many people are ignorant and taken advantage of by those with an agenda. We should certainly slant our articles more towards education rather than outright mockery. Redchuck.gif ГенгисOur ignorance is God; what we know is science.Moderator 20:08, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
The single biggest reason (in my mind, anyhow) that "evo" loses, is the way "we" treat the average Joe and Jane on the street who are voting for these silly bills. I don't think they actually care what the bible says, though their "leaders" do. I just think they say "wow, it seems incredible that a blind jelly fish could suddenly "make" a jellyfish with eyes". and the Creationists feed on that. We will do ourselves so much of a service by trusting that for most people, the argument "what do you mean gravity is just a theory -- I drop something, it falls" feels TRUE to them, and that "but i've never seen a fish give birth to a lizard" feels TRUE to them. And when real people ask real questions we get all "science" and use big giant words, and ideas that seem non-concrete, rather than simplifying, using illustrations and comparatives to help them get it. Brian Cox wrote, recently, that he had sorta mis-spoke about some uber uber complex thing relating to how one electron is all places in the universe at once - and was criticized cause *some* idiots will use it to offer up some new-age theory. His response was "it's better to try and explain, with simplified ideas that might get misused, than to say "it's too complex, just go to physics and trust us", if only cause some kid out there is going to say "that's cool, i want to learn more". Even though some of the cost is being mis quoted, quote mined or if you have to beat your head against the tree 100 times saying "there is no such thing as information". :-) Pink mowse.pngGodot What do cats dream about? 20:11, 30 March 2012 (UTC)(edit con).
I don't think the tone of the article is that bad. As the intro points out, this is sometimes raised as a serious question who are uneducated or misinformed about evolution, but it's also used at least as often by wingnut apologists who aren't seem to think they're delivering some kind of devastating blow when they play this card. And it's a real argument from ignorance: "I can't make sense of evolution (or my inaccurate perception of it) therefore evolution makes no sense". ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:35, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
"The majority are ignorant, which is not the same thing as stupid." -Richard Dawkins Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 06:46, 31 March 2012 (UTC)
Wow, can I just say these changes are amazing. The article is not only "less scornful" it's far more useful. It not only shows answers in how we can address this with normal people, but why people are inclined to ask the question. Pink mowse.pngGodot What do cats dream about? 14:48, 31 March 2012 (UTC)
Yep, good one noticing this was a problem. It's the snark-education dialectic. Working on 101 evidences with a specific target audience of miseducated creationists has been very useful for perspective - David Gerard (talk) 19:00, 31 March 2012 (UTC)


I'm unconvinced this is a good example. As I understand it (as a non-expert, so feel free to correct me), we don't know that Neanderthals weren't as human as us Cro-Magnons mentally - and we do know that Europeans are 2-4% Neanderthal genetically, so they were certainly human enough for sexytime. And we don't know about interbreeding with Denisovians and whether they would pass our "human" detectors. Do we have anything better? - David Gerard (talk) 19:00, 31 March 2012 (UTC)

from the "i'm not a scientist but have been addicted for 4 years", what you are stating seems to be exactly the view of at least "accessible" level, or pop-evo. Do you have a better suggestion? --Pink mowse.pngGodot What do cats dream about? 19:48, 31 March 2012 (UTC)

Ready to talk "cover article"[edit]

I'd really like to see this (or anything like it) pushed to a cover level status. It's educational, fun where it needs to be, ect. I'm not one who thinks "cover" needs to be "gold". We are not wiki with 100000000 things people might want to read, we attract specific people (other than CPers), and some of them are like me, looking to "address" concerns of evo in their schools or in their communities. So I think we should consider what it needs to be cover quality.--Pink mowse.pngGodot What do cats dream about? 19:47, 31 March 2012 (UTC)

Could do with a bit longer before it's ready for a hell-week of peer review. I'm not sure there's much more to add, but we could put in a serious effort to find more suitable stuff. I think the explanatory bits are presently too long and will be glossed over by the target audience as tl;dr. - David Gerard (talk) 20:19, 31 March 2012 (UTC)
Every linked article needs to be good enough for a miseducated reader to benefit from too - David Gerard (talk) 20:26, 31 March 2012 (UTC)

Certainly one of the best articles I've read recently. Elucidatory, humorous, occasionally snarky, but gentle enough to not be off-putting. VOXHUMANA 09:53, 15 June 2012 (UTC)


There's a "twitterer" (@TakeThatDarwin) who retweets a whole load (dozens daily) of tweets asking the question or variants. She/he refers to this article in their profile. Scream!! (talk) 03:03, 6 January 2013 (UTC)

:-D I just did a blog post of the article too, and linked back to them - David Gerard (talk) 13:15, 13 February 2013 (UTC)

Nice article[edit]

And well deserving of the silver brainstar. Lots of good material presented up front, and a little humor thrown in at the end. Quality work, and kudos to all who built it! ħumanUser talk:Human 01:33, 3 January 2014 (UTC)

Minor confusion issue[edit]

Maybe I'm just being daft, but I can't figure this bit out:

"Because the question deals with the discomfort many people seem to have about our relationship with monkeys, it might be interesting to see how they feel about being related to apes:

  • Do you think that the real reason that we look so much like apes is that we were especially created (or designed) that way for some (similar) purposes?"

This is how I read this part:

"Because the question deals with the discomfort many people seem to have about our relationship with monkeys" - Ok, I can take a good guess at why people may feel discomfort. It's because we like to think of ourselves as special and superior to monkeys, and this notion of a relationship weakens that line of thinking. So that bit is alright.

"it might be interesting to see how they feel about being related to apes" - Fair enough, I guess. If they feel discomfort at being related to monkeys, they may also feel discomfort about being related to apes for the same reason. Or they may not feel discomfort, and that may have various reasons. Either way it's interesting to know.

"Do you think that the real reason that we look so much like apes is that we were especially created (or designed)" - Designed by what? Nature? God? I can't help feeling that this is implying something, but I can't figure it out.

"created (or designed) that way for some (similar) purposes?" What purpose? Do you mean us and apes evolved that way for the purpose of surviving? Do you mean God made us that way for the purpose of ... I can't even fathom what that would be, not being a religious thinker myself.

So yeah, if anyone has some context or clarification for me, I'd be grateful. Nullahnung (talk) 14:06, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

I read that the other day and wondered what it was going on about as well. I would suggest that the article would be better off without it. --Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 14:16, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Removed. ЩєазєюіδWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 14:42, 8 February 2014 (UTC)