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Ape clarification

Apes, tailless primates, are divided into two families: lesser apes like gibbons, and great apes, which include chimpanzees, gorillas, and humans. The absence of a tail is a key characteristic distinguishing apes. This clarification corrects a previous error where an ape was incorrectly depicted with a tail. Created by Sal Khan.

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  • male robot hal style avatar for user Ray Alibux
    Why did apes and humans evolve from a common ancestor, but in different paths?
    (55 votes)
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    • old spice man green style avatar for user Nathan Davis
      Evolved doesn't mean becoming smarter, or taller, or faster, or anything like that, it just means changed. However any one of those traits can be a way a certain species evolves but individually none of them would be a requirement.

      When humans look at a fleas we look at them and find them to very primitive. It can't use tools like we can, it can't build houses for shelter like we do, it can't build a fire to keep itself warm, it can't even talk with other fleas. So we see all of those traits that we can do that are essential for our survival that the flea can't do and we see ourselves as superior to a flea.

      However if that flea had the same mental capacity as we do and can make the same judgment, it would look at us to say "look at those apes, I can jump 100 times my own height they can barely jump 1/3 of their height. If they fall from a height of 3 times their own height they run the risk of breaking a bone and even dying. Me, my hard exoskeleton protects me from any fall even if its 1000s of times my own height. I can jump from the ground on to a deer without it even noticing, then hide in its fur, feed off of it and even start a family all awhile being protected within the deer's fur, let's see a human do that"

      So which one is better. What would happen if humans evolved the ability to jump 100s of times their own height so its on par with a fleas ability? Well, obviously, humans would be able to jump 500-600 feet in the air, and since our skeletal structure is the way it is, we would immediately die on impact. So the fleas have it much better than humans in that regards.

      Conversely, What would happen if a flea evolved to have the reasoning and mental capacity equal to a human? Well, what is a flea even going to use that for? Humans originally used it to develop primitive weaponry for hunting as well as to domesticate fire for warmth and cooking our kills. Would any of that, in any way, be of any help to a fleas survival? No; of course not. Those skills would be completely useless to a flea. They need to jump onto passing mammals, drink their blood and hide in their fur. Not kill cook and eat like humans.

      So to answer your original question, a human is no more evolved than any other primate or even a common flea. Every species evolved in a way that gives it the best possible chance to survive long enough to pass on its genes to the next generation.
      (164 votes)
  • leaf green style avatar for user sarapeep1
    When the instructor refers to "Lesser Apes" at , what characteristics classify these "Lesser Apes"?
    (24 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user George Cristóbal Pérez
      lesser ape characteristics are smaller brains smaller size. for example the smallest great ape is the bonobo chimp which is mostly around four feet in size. while the largest lesser ape the siaming tends to be three feet in size. lesser apes also have longer and thinner arms when compaired too leg length. while great apes like gorillias and humans tend too have a similar leg and arm size. lesser apes are also found in southeast asia and islands like sumatra. while great apes are found in africa. the lesser apes are also tree dwellers while the great apes tend too be terristrial animals. lesser apes are vegetarian while great apes are omnivorious with humans and chimpanzees hunting for food
      (32 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user kopfl
    So, if we evolved from apes why did not all of the apes evolve with us.
    (9 votes)
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  • male robot donald style avatar for user Marlon984
    Why haven't humans evolved for so long or gone through any period of natural selection for thousands of years? Peope from ancient egypt had the same structure of modern day humans.
    (6 votes)
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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Avro
    So we are not Derived from apes, we are actually an ape species am I right?
    (1 vote)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user SkyStalker007
    As i was scrolling through the comments i saw that no one made a comment on the guy in the picture, so i'll do it myself

    for those who didn't know
    the guy who is on the right is Sal Khan himself.
    if you google Sal Khan and go to images you'll see images of a much younger Sal Khan with the same facial structures as shown in the picture
    (7 votes)
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  • hopper cool style avatar for user Artemis
    Do viruses have genders? Or do they all just multiply by splitting or something? Also, are all species constantly slowly evolving?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user deusera
    why don't apes have tails?
    (3 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Hecretary Bird
      The primary reason that apes evolved without tails is because of their preferred locomotion methods. Other monkeys preferred to move through the treetops on slender branches on all fours, and a tail is very important in this case for balance purposes. However, apes primarily move around by walking on solid ground or swinging through trees with their upper limbs. Tails are less needed for balance here, so they gradually went away because of evolution.
      (4 votes)
  • leafers seedling style avatar for user Donna D
    Is it true that humans do have a "tail" of sorts albeit it is not visible. A small vestal 6 inch or less curve at the base of the spine. Virtually unused but nevertheless painful of broke or cracked?
    And do any other primates have this hidden attachment?
    (3 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Cody Balkey
    Okay, so we evolve from apes, so if one mated with a human could you see the "half-way" of human evolution?
    (2 votes)
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    • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user Matt
      First, humans are apes. Second, it would be more accurate to say that all apes and humans share a common ancestor instead of saying that humans evolved from apes. This common ancestor doesn't exist any more because over time the traits found in a population changed and became what we see today in the diversity of ape populations . So if you could mate a human with an ape you would end up with a hybrid, but that hybrid wouldn't necessarily be anything like the common ancestor. Also, because humans and other apes are different species it might not be possible to mate the two and even if it was most people would find it unethical.

      Although it isn't quite the same because it doesn't deal with heredity a similar idea would be that raisins and grape juice share a common ancestor, at some time in the past they were both grapes. If you mix together raisins and grape juice you don't really get grapes.
      (5 votes)

Video transcript

In the first video on evolution, I drew something that I called an ape. And then I drew a tail on it. And what I want to do in this video is clarify that that was absolutely wrong. Apes have no tails. And it's actually one of the main distinguishing characteristics of apes. There's obviously other primates that also have no tails. But apes definitely have no tails. And just to clarify, there's kind of two families within apes. And their common names are the lesser apes and the great apes. And the lesser apes are things like gibbons. And the great apes are things like chimpanzees, and gorillas, and me, human beings. So these right here, these are the great apes. And clearly, this great ape right here, did not have a great sense of style in 1994. And really didn't feel the need to have a haircut.