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Author Topic: Evolution of monkeys and why we treat them as our analogue?  (Read 4357 times)

Offline crimsonknight3

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I'm watching a program on how we humans make decisions and they are doing research with monkeys to see if they make decisions the same way we do, and thus see how far back we learnt to make decisions in the way we do, however as far as I understand monkeys evolved separately from humans and while we may have looked like them at one point, we are still separated all the way back to our common ancestor which was a fish I believe, which we have more dna in common with than monkeys. So why do we treat them like such a close relation? Granted they are similar to us from the past but they evolved totally separate to us. Also I wonder a lot recently why in general the mainstream tv/news always seem to give slight mis-information, like saying "Monkeys are our closest relative" but if you go back far enough we end up in a point where multiple species evolved from that one fish (I still can't remember which it was), Therefore we are closely related to many creatures, not just monkeys, is it all because they look similar to us, therefore most people find it easier to believe we are closely related in evolution terms?


 

Offline cheryl j

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No, we really are more closely related, and our last common ancestor was, like chimps and humans, a primate.



 

Offline crimsonknight3

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When I was a child I remember hearing humans came from monkeys.  I asked myself, "Then why are monkeys still around?" A valid question.  The problem with the initial statement though is that we did not come from monkeys, but rather we share a common ancestor.

Yes we share a common ancestor, a LONG time ago but they still evolved separate from us in terms that after this common ancestor we evolved separately, so while millions of years ago we were the same, its been millions of years and ALOT of changes so WHY do we relate so much and say we share a common ancestor likes it's a amazing thing? This is the crux of my question. If we go back far enough we have a common ancestor with a cat, yet you don't see mainstream media or scientists fascinated, and doing experiments on cats to try and find out more answers about our origins? Truly we can only go back to our common ancestor to find out about ourselves, to look at a totally different line of evolution to find answers to ourselves seems to me pretty pointless? Just look at DNA and similarities in other creatures,
Cat: 90%
Cow: 80%
Mouse: 75%
Fruit Fly: 60%
Banana: 50%

I guess what I am trying to get at is that do we treat them so similar to us because we once merely "looked" similar, and because they are intelligent? Some scientists believe whales could be just as, if not more intelligent as monkeys. What I don't understand is, what is it about humans that drive us to look for similarities in monkeys to us and then obsess with them and treat them like they are just a less evolved version of us? The biggest question is why the hell do psychological experiments on monkeys to "See how long ago we evolved our Loss/Gain decision making processes" when we split from them in the evolutionary tree long long ago?
 

Offline cheryl j

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Yes we share a common ancestor, a LONG time ago but they still evolved separate from us in terms that after this common ancestor we evolved separately, so while millions of years ago we were the same, its been millions of years and ALOT of changes so WHY do we relate so much and say we share a common ancestor likes it's a amazing thing? This is the crux of my question. If we go back far enough we have a common ancestor with a cat, yet you don't see mainstream media or scientists fascinated, and doing experiments on cats to try and find out more answers about our origins?

Actually, there are lots of experiments done on cats and rats and other animals. If the animal shares certain metabolic reactions anatomical structures with humans then it is thought that the results might be applicable to humans, (even brain structures.) If you go to something like "Scholarpedia" and search "cats," all sorts of studies come up that have absolutely nothing to do with anyone's desire to better understand or advance Feline-kind.

A few reasons I can think of for animal models in science is that traditionally is has been considered less unethical to experiment on animals, researchers know their life history, and can control their environment, diet, etc., their generational times are shorter, and there are fewer variables like cultural influences, etc. And research on other primates does reveal some interesting information about whether other primates share certain abilities and traits that we have in the past thought of as being uniquely human.

I would agree with you though that there is a tendency to assume that if chimps can do something, our common ancestor must have been able to do it. That's probably true, but it's not impossible for similar traits to evolve in separate lines, like the ability of flight in birds and insects and bats.
And you're right that other primates may have traits or behavior we don't have - they didn't stop evolving.
 

Offline evan_au

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you don't see mainstream media or scientists fascinated, and doing experiments on cats to try and find out more answers about our origins?
There are many model organisms which have been used to study genetics, including fruit flies, the arabidopsis mustard plant, zebrafish and mice. There is considerable expertise and many experimental genetic lines which can be purchased for lab experiments.

It is also considerably easier to decode a genome looking for small changes if you already have a published reference genome for that species - imagine solving a million piece jigsaw puzzle without a picture on the front of the box! So there has been a concerted effort to obtain genomes for common laboratory species.

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our common ancestor which was a fish I believe, which we have more dna in common with than monkeys
You must be careful about what method is being used to measure genetic similarity; is it the DNA code, or the protein generated from the DNA, or is it RNA which is used for other cellular purposes, or is it other non-protein-coding sections of DNA? All of these comparisons will yield different results for genetic similarity. It is even more hazardous to compare measures from different researchers, who may be using quite different measures of similarity.

Back in the day when it was a PhD thesis to decode the genetic sequence of just one protein in just one species, it was really only possible to compare the DNA of individual proteins. If you compare a human protein with the few other species that had the same protein decoded, you could certainly end up deciding that humans were genetically closest to a fish.

With modern techniques, it is possible to decode a whole genome for a novel species in the time it used to take to decode a single protein. We are no longer comparing individual proteins from a few species, but all the proteins from a rapidly growing library of decoded species (of course, there are many more species to go...).

For this reason, I would be more trusting of genetic similarity as determined by whole-genome sequencing, rather than by comparing just one or a few proteins, which would have been a considerable achievement just 20 or 30 years ago.
 
 

Offline cheryl j

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For this reason, I would be more trusting of genetic similarity as determined by whole-genome sequencing, rather than by comparing just one or a few proteins, which would have been a considerable achievement just 20 or 30 years ago.
 

It will probably change the naming process as well.

Scientist proposes revolutionary naming system for all life on Earth
Feb 21, 2014

http://phys.org/news/2014-02-scientist-revolutionary-life-earth.html
 

Offline dlorde

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The biggest question is why the hell do psychological experiments on monkeys to "See how long ago we evolved our Loss/Gain decision making processes" when we split from them in the evolutionary tree long long ago?
It's a balance between wanting to experiment on a creature as similar to us as possible, but not so similar that experimenting on them makes us uncomfortable (although the degree of discomfort has increased over time).

Monkeys are simians, sometimes known as 'higher primates', which makes them evolutionarily closer to us than all non-simians, but they're not apes, so they're not so close that it feels like experimenting on a relative.

With respect to subtle behavioural investigations like decision-making processes, the idea is to discover how recently such traits developed. If monkey behaviour and lifestyle has changed little since the common ancestor with humans, and both humans and monkeys show the same decision-making traits, there's a strong probability that we've inherited those decision-making traits from the common ancestor, which gives us useful information about the order of evolution of our behavioural traits.
« Last Edit: 28/02/2014 09:38:38 by dlorde »
 

Offline cheryl j

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It's a balance between wanting to experiment on a creature as similar to us as possible, but not so similar that experimenting on them makes us uncomfortable (although the degree of discomfort has increased over time).

Monkeys are simians, sometimes known as 'higher primates', which makes them evolutionarily closer to us than all non-simians, but they're not apes, so they're not so close that it feels like experimenting on a relative.

With respect to subtle behavioural investigations like decision-making processes, the idea is to discover how recently such traits developed. If monkey behaviour and lifestyle has changed little since the common ancestor with humans, and both humans and monkeys show the same decision-making traits, there's a strong probability that we've inherited those decision-making traits from the common ancestor, which gives us useful information about the order of evolution of our behavioural traits.

According to Frans De Waal in a book called Primates and Philosophers, apes are used for non-invasive research now, which might defined as any research that we wouldn't mind doing on human volunteers. That means no testing of compounds, nor giving them any disease they don't already have, or disabling surgeries. Any medical study that can be done on baboons or macaques, isn't permitted on chimps, and this has actually resulted in a surplus of chimps and creation of "retirement homes" for them. (I follow Primate Rescue Center on Twitter. The stories and pictures are kind of cool. They had a chimp art auction once to raise money)

« Last Edit: 01/03/2014 00:11:06 by evan_au »
 

Offline crimsonknight3

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Thank you all for your discussion and answers. It definitely make's a very good point, I already understood the scientific use for other animals as our analogues, anti-depressant tests on rats because their brain chemistry is very similar to ours and their entire genome and environment can be strictly controlled, plus humans naturally feel less attached to rats, thus they can perform morally questionable experiments, such as testing whether an anti-depressant gave one rat more of a will to live than another by putting them in stressful environments then putting them in water and seeing how long it takes for each to give up and let itself drown.

I also can understand the thought process behind the psychological experiments with chimps to find out if they had the same decision making process as us, however the fact that (Please correct me if im using the term wrong) convergent evolution (where two species separately evolve the same traits) can happen in every species in a relatively short amount of time, what is to say that us humans haven't influenced the chimps over the last 100 years into taking on this behaviour? All I am trying to say is that I don't see how an experiment that can never give any solid answers is considered real science.

If there are 3 or more possible reasons for chimps making decisions the same way we do (Convergent evolution, Environmental factors through contact with humans over potentially thousands of years, or their hypothesis that we shared the same decision making process with our common ancestor) then unless we can go back and test our descendants or find a pristine strain of dna and create a perfect clone (I am a believer that dna holds more than just physical characteristics but also psychological traits, which change over time due to environment) nothing can be proven and only speculated, and the fact we can't travel back in time, the likelihood is that this speculation cant be proven in the future either as even if we manage to find markers in the chimps genes to do with psychological traits, that again doesn't mean that our common ancestor did, thus we would need their dna aswell, which is impossible.

I guess this just boils down to my feelings, and how I find it hard to understand why a lot of money would be spent when the outcome right from the beginning is only going to be an educated guess.  I am saying an educated guess at a push lol I don't believe there is any way of proving whether chimps learnt this behaviour 150 years ago, or from their descendants 150,000 years ago or way back to our common ancestor. I think with our current techniques, we can prove physical links to extinct species but not psychological links. Though I have seen some interesting paragraphs here and there about current experiments that are finding information that is in our genes but not part of our active genes. It was saying how certain things that parents do before even conception, can affect the genome and give any future children a chance to have a pre-disposition to things like depression, addictive tendencies etc and scientists believe that there could be a lot more information hidden in our genes.

Anyway I digress, if any of you are from the scientific community, why spend money on research that is never going to give you an answer you can trust? Again I stress that I understand that dead end research must be done in order to advance our understanding of everything! However it is like us spending 100,000,000 on researching how aliens communicate. It can only end in speculation not hard evidence. I believe there should be a lot more research in our own physical and psychological anatomy rather than other species similar to us. I for one have medical issues that can't be explained without more research into how our brain actually controls the body's natural process's and until there is more understanding, there  is no diagnoses as to why my body has cocked up the way it has, let alone research into cures (I have a problem that is similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome however I have been told it is not IBS, I have been tested poked and prodded and there is nothing apparently causing my problems, none of the treatments that "help" IBS work so the last possibility is that it is an issue with my brain. I know I go off the point too often but this is why I when I found out about this research I had to speak to people more scientifically minded to see just why this research is performed and what gains could we possibly get that aren't 99% speculation?

Thanks again for reading, I am terrible at being concise sometimes but I have always been one of those people that has so many idea's and never able to apply factual knowledge against them. Like I had the idea of wireless electricity about 6 years before it was first announced to the mainstream community, I even had a plan of using the technology to power certain toys, like remote controlled cars as one thing I was always disappointed with when I was younger was how you could play with a remote contolled car for only 30-60-90(if your lucky) mins before the battery died and you had to spend 6-8hours charging it (This was before lithium batteries I believe(15-18 years ago)).
 

Offline snowyco

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Regarding Crimson Knight's personal digression:  Have you considered that you likely have food allergies?  After decades of misdiagnoses of IBD, acute colitis,  pre-Khrons, CUC, etc, and many many failed "medical"  treatments, I was finally diagnosed correctly as having allergies to corn, dairy, soy, and wheat.  After 1 year on a Paleo diet, simply eating only fresh fruits, meats, and selected non-cereal grain vegetables,  (excluding the foods I was allergic to), the previous 2 decades of bleeding from the bowel and the narrowed rigid section of my bowel completely and permanently resolved.

Eating a paleo diet of fresh meats, sweet potatoes, yams, squash, and fruits, that approximately matches what we  ate for the previous 3 million years, (no cereal grains, no legumes, no soy products, no beans, no peanuts, no potato, no dairy, no shrimp shellfish or lobster, no cane sugar, no grape sugar, (etc) and no tomato products), for just 4 days gives your system a chance to eliminate the antigens related to common food allergies.   On the morning of the fifth day, you eat a big breakfast of a single food that you would like to add back into your diet.   Rice is a good start.    Eat nothing more until after 4:00 that afternoon, to create an isolated bolus of the food you are testing.    Pay attention to any symptoms you have for the next 24 hours.   Symptoms can include GI distress,  rashes,  urticaria,  joint swelling, asthma, nasal rhinitis, coughing, etc.   Pay special attention to any symptoms that happen in the middle of the night, when typical GI motility moves the bolus into the section of your GI tract with the most immune sites, the colon.

If you have any unusual symptoms during that day 5 test - then you are likely a likely allergic to that food, and you should exclude it from your diet for 2 - 3 months.  If you have any unusual symptoms,  then go back to eating an exclusive paleo diet for 4 more days to allow those antigens to leave your system.  On that next day 5,  eat a breakfast of the next food you think you would like to have back in your diet.

What's the tie in to the evolution of monkeys,  chimps, and why we treat them as our analogue:   It is a reasonable bet that during the last 3 - 5 million years before agriculture,  the period when our immune system was formed,  based on our trash heaps (including those found in cave floors), we and primates appear to have eaten very similar diets  (except for proto-human cultures that developed near the sea, eating lots of mollusks and other easy to gather shell fish).   
« Last Edit: 08/03/2014 19:38:53 by snowyco »
 

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