I had my GEOL120 (Environmental Geology) lecture today with Dr. Sujay S. Kaushal. This is a basic level geology course that I decided to take to fulfil my non-lab science CORE credit. The course so far is incredibly simple and today's lecture was on plate tectonics. We were discussing the biodiversity in lakes that come about through rift valleys, or splitings in the earth's crust, that are the result of evolution. The fish in these lakes (Lake Tanganyika, Lake Baikal, and Lake Malawi are examples of rift valley lakes) are separated from the fish found in the oceans and develop new species. Dr. Kaushal then said something to the effect of, "You know, evolution; humans coming from apes." I was in the second row and just stared at him. I cut him a little slack because GEOL120 is a course on geology, but a collegiate professor in the sciences should know better. I did a little research on my professor and found http://www.kaushallab.com/home/curriculum-vitae-1 which lists my professor's credentials. If you take a look you would see that he earned a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Colorado! Ph.D. in Biology... Speechless. Humans are not descendants of apes! The phrase "humans come from apes" is utterly false. Evolution is not a ladder; it is a tree. To begin, humans are apes. Our closest "cousin" is the chimpanzee, however we didn't "come" from chimpanzees. We share a common ancestor with chimpanzees and further back that common ancestor between humans and chimpanzees shared a common ancestor with gorillas. A better explanation comes from Richard Dawkins; see http://richarddawkins.net/rdf_productions/vignettes and click on the video "Richard Dawkins: Why are there still Chimpanzees? - Nebraska Vignettes #2" near the bottom of the page. Evolution is the very core of biology and for a Ph.D. holder in the field of Biology to not understand evolution is mind boggling to me. This blog post accurately addresses the issue and is well written: http://tvindy.typepad.com/tvindy/2003/08/are_humans_apes.html. I am not an expert in evolutionary biology and before I write anything in this blog I consult multiple sources. This process usually takes a long time and a decent amount of effort (for example, this short post took about an hour to write because I check and recheck the facts of every statement I make). Anybody, with an appropriate amount of time and effort can understand and learn about any subject they wish to. I am a firm believer in this. All you have to be able to do is recognize and differentiate between reliable and unreliable sources which takes practice.
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