Human Evolution, Apes to Man

  • Human Evolution is studied in anthropology
  • Genology: the orderly sequencing of evolutionary phases 
  • T.H. Huxley made the first attempt to explain the genesis of man using science in his book “The place of man in nature “
  • The book Descent of Man contains Charles Darwin’s theories about the origins of man. 
  • Man was given the scientific term “Homo sapiens” by Linnaeus. 
  • Men were described by Lucretius as “babies birthed out of the womb of Earth.” 
  • Mammals descended from therapsid reptiles of the Mesozoic era’s Triassic epoch. 
  • Egg-laying prototherians, which descended from reptiles during the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era, were the first primitive mammals. 
  • Primates are a class of mammals that include humans, and they first appeared in the Paleocene epoch of the Tertiary Period of the Cenozoic Era.

Order primate include sub order Anthropoids and Prosomian.

  1. Prosomian: Include Tasiers, Lemurs and Lorises
  2. Anthropoids: Ancestors of Hominoids and Monkey

Include 3 superfamilies

New world monkey (Ceboidea)

  • Called Platyrrhini
  • Found in South America
  • e.g., Allouatta (Howler Monkey), Ateles (Spider monkey)

Old world Monkey

  • Called cattarhini
  • Found in Africa and Asia
  • e.g., Papio (Baboon), Presbytis (Langur), Macaca mulatta (Rhesus Monkey)

Difference between New world Monkey and Old World Monkey

New World Monkey (Platyrrhini)Old World Monkey (Catarrhini)
Nose and NostrilsFlat noses with widely separated and outwardly directed nostrilsNarrow noses with closely placed and downwardly directed nostrils
TailsPosses long prehensile tailsShort non-prehensile tails
Use of limbsLimbs not used for graspingLimbs well adapted for grasping
DentitionPrimitive dentition like prosimian ancestors; 3 molars and 3 premolars in each half of jawDentition more like man; 2 premolar 3 molar in each half of jaw
Molar cuspsThey have 3 cusps (elevation in the crown of teeth) in molarsHave 4 or 5 cusps in molars
BrainLess developed and unspecialized brainBetter developed and specialized brain , lesser lumbar vertebrae, smaller pinnae, sensitive fingertips,
continuous spermatogenesis, menstrual cycle, and capable of expressing of emotions by facial gestures.
Origin Native to South AmericaNative to Asia and Africa
ExamplesMarmosets, Spider Monkey, etc.Baboons, Proboscis Monkeys, etc.


  • Ancestors of Apes and Human / Ancestory of today’s hominoids
  • Also known as Dryopithecus or Proconsul
  • Cranial capacity 165cc.


Four types of apes have survived till today:

  1. Gibbon: Occurred in Miocene period, smallest of apes (5.5-11 kg)
  2. Orangutan
  3. Gorilla: Heaviest and largest of apes(180kg), Cranial capacity 510cc
  4. Chimpanzee: Closest relative to man, Cranial capacity 400cc
  • Brain to body weight ratio of Apes is 1:250
  • The diploid no. of chromosomes in Gorilla, Chimpanzee and Orangutan (pongids) is 48.
  • The banding pattern and chromosome number best explains the common origin of Man and Chimpanzee.


  • Cradle of Human evolution: Africa
  • Place of Man’s origin: Central Asia

Important Hominoids are:


  • Pliocene period
  • G.E. Lewis discovered from Shivalik hills of India and Dang valley of Nepal
  • Called Sub man (Kenyapithecus Wicker)


  • Near man
  • Early Pleistocene epoch
  • Ancestor of man who 1st stood correct
  • Cranial capacity 300-500cc
  • Lucy and Raymond Dart discovered its species

Handy Man

  • Homo habilis
  • Early Pleistocene
  • Nut cracker fossil man
  • Discovered by Leakey
  • Cranial capacity 700cc

Java- Ape man

  • Homo erectus erectus or Pithecanthropous erectus
  • Middle Pleistocene
  • Discovered by Eugene Dubois from Java, China
  • 1st used fire
  • 1st used tools
  • Cranial capacity 900cc

Peking man

  • Homo erectus pekinensis or Pithecanthropous pekinensis or Sinanthropous pekinensis
  • Middle Pleistocene
  • Discovered by W.C. Pie
  • Cranial capacity 1075 cc

Neanderthal Man

  • Homo sapiens neanderthalensis
  • Discovered by C. Fuwrott from Neader valley (Germany)
  • Late Pleistocene
  • Protruding jaw and prognathous face
  • Believed in Immortality of soul
  • Ceremonial burial of Head.
  • Had a religion, culture and division of labor
  • Lived in cave
  • Used animal hides for clothing
  • 1st speech center developed
  • Cranial capacity 1400cc

Cro-Magnon man

  • Recent (Holocene epoch)
  • Most recent ancestor of today’s man
  • Discovered by Mac Gregor, from Cro- magnon rocks of France
  • Homo sapiens fossilis
  • Face perfectly Orthognathous
  • Omnivorous
  • Artist, made colored cave, paintings, sculptures etc.
  • Cranial capacity 1360cc

Man of Today

  • Recent (Holocene)
  • Homo sapiens sapiens (wise man)
  • Cranial capacity 1400-1450cc
  • Brain to body weight ratio is 1:46

Man of Future

  • Homo sapiens futuralis
  • A prediction by American Antropologist Dr. Sapiro

Cultural Evolution of Man

Periods of cultural evolution have been divided into

  1. Paleolithic: Age of tools, stones and bones
  2. Mesolithic: Age of language, reading and writing, age of animal husbandry
  3. Neolithic: Age of knowledge and age of agriculture
  4. Bronze Age
  5. Present Iron Age

Difference between Apes and Man

HabitatSemi arborealTerrestrial
LimbsFore limbs longer than Hind limbsHind limbs/legs are powerful, stout and more developed than fore limbs
PostureBody posture bent and require fore limbs for movementBody posture erect and fore limbs free during locomotion
HeadHead is balanced on heavy shoulder and found buriedHead is erect and balanced on neck
Skull and ForeheadFore head and skull are flatFore head is large , protruded; Skull, dome shaped.
PostureLumbar curve not found in vertebral columnLumbar curve present, which facilitate erect posture
Lowe jawLower jaw are heavy, teeth large, chin rounded and not prominentLower jaw is small, teeth small, chin flat and prominent
Eye browEye brow ridges are heavy and protrudedEye brow ridges are thin and not protruded
Head movementNeck muscle attached to back of skull, hence head movement limitedNeck muscle attached below skull, hence hence movement wider range
Big ToesBig toes in feet opposable; used for graspingBig toes not opposable, do not help in grasping
FeetDuring locomotion, soles do not touch ground, only outer ridges of fore and hind limbsDuring locomotion, the soles except the bridges of feet touch the ground
Cranial capacityCranial capacity small. Gibbon (100 cc), Orangutan (395 cc), Chimpanzee (400 cc), Gorilla (510 cc)Cranium is large and large cranial capacity unto 1600 cc
ExamplesGibbon, Orangutan, Chimpanzee and GorillaHuman

Similarities between Apes and men

  1. Binocular vision
  2. Unspecialized nature of Hand
  3. Absence of tail
  4. Reduction of lumbar vertebrae making smaller lumbar region
  5. Enlarged brain
  6. similarity in blood antigen
  7. Ability of intercommunication by vocal menus
  8. Expression of emotion by facial gestures
  9. Spermatogenesis in male
  10. Menstruous cycle in female
  11. Nature to live in Pairs as couples

Learn more about Connecting links in Evolution

Binod G C

I'm Binod G C (MSc), a PhD candidate in cell and molecular biology who works as a biology educator and enjoys scientific blogging. My proclivity for blogging is intended to make notes and study materials more accessible to students.

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