That Ape Planet Ain’t Real

It’s true that summer is when Hollywood typically brings out its version of great, big dumb apes, but this year it’s got the franchise.

Yeah, I know, if it weren’t for far-fetched horseshit screenwriters would be forced to think and viewers too. A more tempestuous future I cannot imagine.

But since many of our citizens and one of our political parties are living in a world before the Scopes trial, I feel duty bound (yeah, right) to take evolutionary exception to this brainy apes running the planet premise.

Let’s give credit to the set up of the premise at least, which is that humanity is so wretched it cannot help but give itself a ticket to oblivion sooner than later, leaving an open position at the top of the food chain.  I think we have a pretty convincing record of perfidy and self-destructiveness, so we’ll allow this element of the story as standard realism.

However, and I’m no biologist, but I can tell you, no matter what sort of shooting itself in the head humanity manages, and I’m sure it will manage some kind, those apes aren’t evolving intelligence.  As my regular bartender says, “Once an ape always an ape.”

The fact is, apes and other critters have had zillions of years to evolve intelligence and they haven’t done it. There’s something called convergence in evolution, meaning different species may evolve a similar trait, like wings for example. Still, at a certain point there’s as much chance apes will evolve wings as they will human-level intelligence. If, according to some theories nature preserves a niche for higher intelligence, at this point in the lifespan of life itself, if higher intelligence is going to appear it’s going to appear in humans.

Of course, that’s not to say that once humans diminish themselves back to living in the dirt and grunting (there already are preliminary signs such as NASCAR) apes would be entitled to a fair amount of schadenfreude, and I have no doubt they would be more than capable of experiencing plenty. Humans had it coming; and in fairness, even without evolving intelligence apes still would have a case for being smarter than us. Not that a lot of organizational skill is required in your hunter gather society but they should get a crack at running the show in my view.

In fact, I believe we already have an example of ape-like creatures elevated to positions of responsibility in the case of the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Just to demonstrate I’m not a rabid anti-simian I’d be happy to replace them with actual apes. If the apes’ policies can reduce wages, stifle growth, create wealth disparity, increase debt, crash the economy and altogether turn the United States into a third-world country with greater proficiency than Republicans I’ll have to see it to believe it.

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