Publicado el 2021-06-09 en Bachillerato

The history of the theory of evolution, do we come from the monkey?

By Constanza Wulschner Montes

It is always advisable to clearly perceive our ignorance.
Charles Darwin


The origin of man and his evolution has been a controversial topic and studied for many years. The desire to understand our origin and our development throughout the history of life on Earth has been one of the greatest unknowns for science and biology.


Spoiler alert: We do not come from the monkey! (Figure 1)

Figure 1.- Wrong representation of the human evolution


When we talk about evolution, it is necessary to go back to the 1800s and mention the well-known name “Charles Darwin”. According to legend, in 1831, a young Darwin embarked on an adventure aboard the Beagle as a naturalist (although he had not studied anything related to the natural sciences until that moment), visiting, among other places, the Galapagos archipelago in Ecuador. In this place, Darwin observed different species of birds and their morphological changes generated by specialized diets, which inspired him to establish the well-known adaptive theory that suggests that the diversity of life on Earth and its changes over time is product of an organic process of descent with modification (evolution) and the mechanism is natural selection (Darwin, C. 1859). The reality is that specifying the evolutionary theory was not easy, nor was it as simple as it is proposed to us, Darwin, in addition to his morphological observation in birds and turtles, analyzed hundreds of fossil records and compared the fossil anatomy with the current anatomy of the specimens that he observed, this is called comparative anatomy (G, Cuvier et al. 1795) based on the investigations of Georges Cuvier. All these previous investigations were giving rise to the study of the evolution of the human being, we can often find the image of the evolution represented by a monkey, then a series of missing links until reaching a hominid and later a human, however, Darwin, from the beginning, established that evolution was not a linear process, that is, he did not affirm that we descended directly from the monkey, but that we had a common ancestor that over time and through adaptations, we were separated into several species. The monkey is the product of the evolutionary history of one of those species separated from the common ancestor and the human from another (Figure 2). Evolution process is random (Ayala, F. 1979), it is based on trial and error driven by natural selection and later, adaptation. But how did we come to these conclusions nowadays? To understand it, it is necessary to know the history of evolution.