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Using this link (https://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/misconceptions_faq.php) as a guide, explain why each is incorrect with regards to evolutionary theory and the process of natural selection:

  • ”Humans evolved from chimpanzees, so chimpanzees should still be evolving to become more human-like”
  • ”Evolution is just a theory”

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The first statement wrongly claims that humans evolved from modern chimpanzees. Actually, humans and chimpanzees are believed to have evolved from a common ancestor; our evolutionary paths diverged millions of years ago. Chimpanzees are evolving, just as humans are. But they are evolving separately from humans. This question also assumes that evolution is teleological—that all beings, and specifically all primates, are evolving toward something that must be human-like. In fact, primates evolve based on genetic changes, or mutations, that prove to be beneficial adaptations to their environments. In short, chimpanzees are not humans in the making. They are not necessarily evolving to become something more human-like.

The issue raised in the second question stems from a popular misconception about the definition of the word "theory." In short, the word has a different meaning to scientists than it does in everyday usage. As the article says, evolution is a theory that makes accurate, testable predictions. It has withstood observation and testing for decades, if not centuries. Evolution, like all theories, is a "work in progress." It itself is "evolving" as new discoveries are made. But in terms of scientific theories, which are rigorously tested and based on massive amounts of evidence, evolutionary theory is "the only well-supported explanation for life's diversity." When people say "theory" in every day conversation, they usually mean a speculation or a guess. That is almost the opposite of what a scientific theory is.

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