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Author Topic:   Why are there no human apes alive today?
caffeine
Member (Idle past 990 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


(1)
Message 7 of 1075 (512470)
06-18-2009 11:32 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Doubletime
06-18-2009 6:06 AM


There are human apes around today. Me, you, him:
But sorry, I know what you meant.
The important question, though, is why should there be? I think a lot of the problem comes from thinking of things as superior and inferior. Certainly, modern humans are vastly better than other species at things like abstract reasoning, but evolution doesn't progress from inferior to superior species. The species that survive are simply that - those that survive.
Bacteria are very simple creatures compared to a human, and much more similar to our ancestors from thousands of millions of years ago. Yet these primitive lifeforms are still omnipresent because they're good at what they need to be - surviving and lproducing offspring.
Similarly, surviving apes are well adapted to their environments, and so are good at surviving and producing offspring (at least, they were. Human destruction of their environment is driving them all to extinction).
The specific reasons for the loss of our hominid cousins will vary. Some of them likely became too dependent on the environment they lived in, and couldn't survive when it changed. One of the big advantages modern humans have is that (like rats) they're highly adatable, and can get by in all manner of new, strange environments. Animals that are heavily specialised (like gorillas) are pretty much screwed if the environment they rely on goes away, whether that's because of humans chopping down forests or hotter climates making your swamps dry up.
Other hominids, like Homo Erectus, were more adaptable, and managed to colonise the entire Old World. Here, though, I suppose your superior / inferior ideas can come into play. Modern humans, with their greater intelligence, were probably much better at the generalist, hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and could have outcompeted other, less intelligent hominids in the endless struggle for resources.
It's also important to remember that other apes have not stayed almost exactly the same shape. Check these fellas:
They’re all quite different from one another, so there have been some substantial changes going on since their common ancestors. They have not just remained the same.
Even if they had, though, this wouldn’t be a problem for evolution, nor is it if they resemble our common ancestors in lifestyle and morphology more than we do. Species that change little change little because they’re very well adapted to their environment. Other species may branch off from these, that change to exploit new environments and new niches. There’s no reason the original should die out if its environment remains basically the same and its strategies for reproduction and survival continue to be successful.
Edited by caffeine, : sloppy typing

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caffeine
Member (Idle past 990 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


Message 81 of 1075 (524348)
09-16-2009 5:19 AM
Reply to: Message 79 by Databed
09-15-2009 11:24 AM


Jungle men
Neanderthals didn't evolve to live in the same niche as modern humans. Neanderthals were adapted to live in chilly, ice-age Europe while modern humans were busy evolving on Africa's savannahs. They were shorter and stockier, helping in heat retention; they were much more robust to enable them to get by in harsh environmental conditions, and they were less equipped for long treks across open country. Modern humans managed to solve the problems of northern living with more advanced technology than the Neanderthals.
As for whether humans can survive in jungles without modern technology, indeed they can and do. The few people still living with no contact with modern civillisation can be found mostly in places like the Amazon and the jungles of New Guinea.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 79 by Databed, posted 09-15-2009 11:24 AM Databed has replied

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caffeine
Member (Idle past 990 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


Message 92 of 1075 (525656)
09-24-2009 5:39 AM
Reply to: Message 88 by traste
09-23-2009 11:33 PM


The difference between 'adapted' and 'advanced'
What made them better adapted? If they are better adapted then it follows that they have advanced feutures. In this respect my argument remained intact and my question remained unanswered.
Adaptation is purely relative to your environment. Take the sperm whale. It's very well adapted to life in the sea, so by your reckoning it's features must be advanced. However, if you put a sperm whale in the middle of the Kalahari, it wouldn't last five minutes.
There are spotted hyaenas in the Kalahari who are very well adapted, and get by just fine. Given that these would survive will, and the sperm whale would die rapidly, the hyaena must have more advanced features than the whale, by your description. If we threw a hyena into the sea a few hundred miles from the Azores, though, it would drown. The sperm whale is happy as larry here, so it must be more advanced than the hyaena. But then we've already established that the hyena is more advanced than the whale...
The solution to this dilemma is simply that it doesn't make sense to discuss one as being more advanced than the other. The two are simply different, and it's very subjective which traits count as advanced. What we can say about both is that their well-adapted. Spotted hyaenas have jaws powerful enough to crush bone and stomachs capable of digesting it, for example, which is a useful adaptation for an environment where a partially decomposed carcass might be the only food you come across for a while. Sperm whales have flexible rib cages that help them withstand great pressures without being crushed; and a high proportion of red blood cells to hold oxygen - both useful traits if you're going to spend part of your life in the deepest, darkest depths.
Being well adapted to one environment doesn't mean you're adapted to all environments though, as noted in the extreme contrast between the two environments these animals occupy and their total inability to survive if switched. Environments change, and when they do you need to either be built in such a way that you're sufficiently adapted to the new environment, or you go extinct.
I live in a moderately sized, human-built city - a relatively recent appearance on the landscape. This area used to support things like bison, bears and wolves; but these are all gone as they were not well adapted to a new urban environment filled with hostile humans. Other species, like rats, pigeons and magpies for example, were well adapted to get by in this sort of place, so they've flourished and are probably more common. Their relative success doesn't mean they're more advanced than the species which have gone locally extinct or declined in numbers. It just means they're better adapted to the new environment. Their success is only the result of this new environment, and if the environment had changed in a different fashion it might never have happened - this is why an absolute concept of 'advanced' makes little sense.
Similar things probably happened to many other hominid species. Environments changed - Africa dried for example, meaning more dry open spaces and less swampy marshlands. If a hominid species was specially adapted to living in these swampy wetlands, they'd find it harder to survive when these are reduced. Again, though, this doesn't mean they're less advanced than the hominids which were adapted to life in the new, drier Africa. Had the climate changed differently and gotten wetter, the same hominids forced to extinction might have flourished.

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 Message 88 by traste, posted 09-23-2009 11:33 PM traste has replied

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 Message 107 by traste, posted 09-25-2009 11:36 PM caffeine has replied

caffeine
Member (Idle past 990 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


(1)
Message 143 of 1075 (533011)
10-28-2009 5:14 AM
Reply to: Message 107 by traste
09-25-2009 11:36 PM


Re: The difference between 'adapted' and 'advanced'
Sorry that I never replied to this earlier - I only just noticed it. You wrote:
quote:
Caffeine wrote:
Adaptation is purely relative to your environment. Take the sperm whale. It's very well adapted to life in the sea, so by your reckoning it's features must be advanced. However, if you put a sperm whale in the middle of the Kalahari, it wouldn't last five minutes
What is the connection of this to the prices, of horses in Germany?
You might have answered your question had you carried on reading instad of stopping at the third sentence. I was using an extreme example to show that 'advanced' is a meaningless term in the abstract. What matters for evolution is how well adapted an animal is to it's environment. The general point was applied to hominids at the end of my post:
quote:
Similar things probably happened to many other hominid species. Environments changed - Africa dried for example, meaning more dry open spaces and less swampy marshlands. If a hominid species was specially adapted to living in these swampy wetlands, they'd find it harder to survive when these are reduced. Again, though, this doesn't mean they're less advanced than the hominids which were adapted to life in the new, drier Africa. Had the climate changed differently and gotten wetter, the same hominids forced to extinction might have flourished.

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 Message 107 by traste, posted 09-25-2009 11:36 PM traste has not replied

caffeine
Member (Idle past 990 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


(1)
Message 145 of 1075 (533019)
10-28-2009 7:41 AM
Reply to: Message 144 by Huntard
10-28-2009 5:49 AM


Genetic fallacy
A genetic falacy? Surely you mean logical falacy? I know English is not your first language, but still.
The genetic fallacy is a logical fallacy, referring to the fact that the genesis of an argument (ie. who made it) is irrelevant to it's soundness. And fallacy has a double l. I thought English was your first language .
Edited by caffeine, : No reason given.

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 Message 144 by Huntard, posted 10-28-2009 5:49 AM Huntard has replied

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caffeine
Member (Idle past 990 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


(1)
Message 148 of 1075 (533160)
10-29-2009 5:06 AM
Reply to: Message 146 by Huntard
10-28-2009 2:00 PM


Re: Genetic fallacy
Uhm no. As you can see below my avatar, I'm from The Netherlands, I would like to think of English as my "second language" though. I don't know every little word form every little discipline, however.
Aha, I should pay more attention. Sorry if I sounded a bit snarky. I'm not normally a spelling corrector - i just thought it had to be pointed out since you were being so critical of traste's English.

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 Message 146 by Huntard, posted 10-28-2009 2:00 PM Huntard has replied

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caffeine
Member (Idle past 990 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


(2)
Message 156 of 1075 (534518)
11-09-2009 3:33 AM
Reply to: Message 151 by traste
11-08-2009 2:24 AM


Re: What is the Meaning of Complex?
If they are adapted to cold and I am adapted to hot, and the challenge is who will survive better in hot places I will take the challenge.
Exactly! But you wouldn't take the challenge if it was who will survive better in cold places. The 'advancement' isn't absolute; it's relative to the environment you're in.
Natural selection will often favour less complexity, because complexity is costly. Complex systems are maintained because they give you an advantage of some kind; they allow you to overcome a problem with survival or reproduction. If someone else comes along who can overcome the same problem with a simpler system, then they will do better. Their system will be cheaper to make, in terms of energy cost and time, and being simpler there'll probably be less things that can go wrong with it.
There's a famous experiment that I thought had already been mentioned in this thread, but which I now can't find. The experiment was done using the RNA of a virus, Q-beta, that normally infects bacterial cells. Normally, the RNA chain is about 4,500 bases long, and codes for four different proteins - each very useful for its survival and reproduction. One adheres it to the wall of the cell it's invaded; one gives it a protective protein coat; one is an enzyme that synthesises another enzyme out of the bacterial cell's own proteins - the latter enzyme being what the virus uses to replicate itself; and the fourth destroys the bacteria, allowing all the newly produced viruses to spread forth and multiply.
Scientists took this virus' RNA, and put it in testtubes containing the necessary chemicals to make more RNA, plus the enzyme the RNA needs to replicate. Obviously, the RNA chain started replicating, but in this artificial environment none of the complex, protein-coding sections of the chain were necessary. There were no bacterial cells to deal with, and the replicase enzyme was already present, so there was no need to synthesise it. Here, complexity was just wasteful, taking more time and more materials to copy while conferring no extra benefit. Simpler forms had the selective advantage here. With enough generations spent in this enviroment, the RNA can eventually shrink from 4,500 bases to as few as 50 - the bare minimum it still needs to replicate with this enzyme.
Natural selection doesn't favour complexity. It favours the simplest system which still acheives the desired effect.

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caffeine
Member (Idle past 990 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


Message 181 of 1075 (618960)
06-07-2011 8:53 AM
Reply to: Message 172 by Portillo
06-07-2011 6:29 AM


At the risk of overwhelming you with replies; you seem to accept that all other primates are primates, while rejecting humanity's membership of the Primate family, by pointing out some differences between humans and other primates. Problem is, every primate is different from other primates in some way - why do their differences not exclude the from the group, but humanity's differences do?
The list treats a wide array of things as if they'e constant over non-human primates which simply aren't. To take the most obvious example:
quote:
Primates have 48 chromosomes
Well, no. The great apes (excepting humans) have 48 chromosones, as do proboscis monkeys and rhesus monkeys. Capuchin monkeys have 54. Most gibbons seems to have 44 chromosones, though siamang have 50 and the concolor gibbon 52. Do we conclue that Capuchins aren't monkeys, and siamang aren't gibbons?

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