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In the Light of Evolution Volume IV: The Human Condition
evolution as nonteleological. At the same time he relates us closely with the apes, albeit as a separate group. Even the gibbons are slightly more closely related with the chimpanzees and gorillas than with humans.
Looking more closely at the drawing, we see numerous entries that are crossed out but they can still be discerned. Surprisingly, the gibbons were initially placed as the closest to humans, with the African apes further removed. These respective positions were subsequently changed so that the chimpanzee and gorilla are closer to humans, although they do not share a common ancestor with us. Did Darwin know that we are African apes (members of the same clade) but not dare to say it? It does not seem so, on the basis of the existence of the drawing, which he kept to himself. Might it be better to say he did not dare to think it? It is more likely that he simply gave greater importance to the enormous differences between modern humans—as a “consequence of his greatly developed brain and erect position” (Darwin, 1871a, p. 197)—and apes than to the similarities between modern humans and African apes. The truth is that without clearly separating primitive and derived features it is not possible to carry out a phylogenetic analysis, and neither Darwin nor T. H. Huxley went further in this regard than other evolutionary biologists of the time.
FIGURE 2.1 Transcription of the genealogical tree of primates in Darwin’s sketch of 1868. Original is in The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online: http://darwin-online.org.uk/. Identifier: CUL-DAR80, image 107.