Finally, we come to our small branch of the primate family tree – the hominids. If you follow the forking branches to us, the orangutan subfamily (Ponginae) were the first to split away around 16.5 million years ago. That branch later diverged into the two modern species of orangutan – the Bornean and Sumatran – just over one million years ago. On the other subfamily (Homininae), the gorillas were the next to branch away around 8.3 million years ago. Finally, our ancestors diverged from those of chimpanzees and bonobos around 6.6 million years ago.
The genus Homo has been around for less than 10% of the entire history of the primate order. And it has taken us far less time to put many of the other species at risk of extinction. Nearly half of all species are endangered thanks to a combination of deforestation, bushmeat hunting and illegal wildlife trade.
Images by me (orangutan, far left), Pierre Fidenci (bonobo, left), Mila Zinkova (gorilla, right) Ikiwaner (chimpanzee, far right)