Did humans really evolve from monkeys or chimps?
- Humans and monkeys are both primates. But humans are not descended from monkeys or any other primate living today.
- We do share a common ape ancestor with chimpanzees. It lived between 8 and 6 million years ago. But humans and chimpanzees evolved differently from that same ancestor.
- All apes and monkeys share a more distant relative, which lived about 25 million years ago.
- Human evolution, like evolution in other species, did not proceed in a straight line. Instead, a diversity of species diverged from common ancestors, like branches on a bush. Our species, Homo sapiens, is the only survivor. But there were many times in the past when several early human species lived at the same time.
QuickFact: The quickest way to tell the difference between a monkey and an ape is by the presence or absence of a tail. Almost all monkeys have tails; apes do not.