A commenter requested that I make a post about evolution, so I figured what better place to start than to clear up some common misconceptions about the evolution of Humans, aka. Homo sapiens.
1) If we are descended from apes, why are there still apes around?
Firstly, we are not descended from apes. Not apes as we know them today anyway. Humans and apes share a common ancestor. Our ancestors broke off from the ancestors that developed into the likes of chimpanzees around 3 million years ago. The oldest bipedal (walks on 2 legs) ape fossils we have are what we call Australopithecus afarensis. All the fossils we have later than this slowly develop more human-like qualities over successive generations, until we get to Homo sapiens today.
2) Chimpanzee's don't give birth to Humans, dogs don't give birth to cats Therefore evolution is wrong!
I can't recall the number of times I've heard this faux-argument against evolution. I don't think the people who use it really mean it, but it just shows that they havn't grasped the concept of what evolution really is, and the timescales that evolution works by.
Lets take Hamsters for example.
If you take a Hamster today, and follow that little critters lineage backward, you wouldn't notice the changes through each generation, but very slowly, those hamster ancestors would progressively look less and less like a Hamster and more and more like the common ancestor that Hamsters share with other rodents. The change is so gradual that you couldn't tell the difference from one generation to the next, but if you skipped lets say 50 generations minor differences would slowly start to creep in. When you take a larger jump, say 1000 generations, the differences would start to become more obvious.
This gradual process can be likened to a child growing up. If you see a child every day as they are growing up, you don't notice them getting older much at all, because it is so gradual. Lets say then, you live on the other side of the country to a child, and you only see them once a year, or even more, the changes between when you last saw them and how they look now are much larger. This is the same concept as evolution, but on a far smaller scale.
My example of the Hamster can be taken and put directly onto the Human evolution family tree.
If you take Australopithecus afarensis and follow it generation by generation forward, you wouldn't notice the changes, but when you jump several hundred thousand years, the change in things like skull size, brow size, the shape of the jaw, tooth size and shape become more obvious, and more human-like.