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Apart of the Anatomically Correct Series

Vanara Source:https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Vanara

The Vanara is a group of people who lives in the forest in the Hindu epic "Ramayana." In there, it describes them as human-like, with reference to their speech, clothing, habitations, funerals, consecrations, and abilities to form armies. It also describes their monkey-like characteristics such as their leaping, hair, fur and a tail.

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From the description, to me it sounds like they're monkeys who gained sapience instead of the great apes. What kind of evolutionary pressure would allow those kinds of events to happen? What would be the physical changes they'd need to have as well?

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    $\begingroup$ I Imagine they couldn't hang from their tails due to the size and weight of their body, the tails could be used as another appendage for other tasks. $\endgroup$ – user69935 Mar 2 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ You may have gotten a downvote because anatomically correct series has been abused in recent months by other members. $\endgroup$ – user69935 Mar 2 at 17:01
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Well, they are primates, so you are almost there anyway. The evolutionary pressures are almost there. Many primates use some tools and live in family like social groups, so you have two of what are considered primary features of a sapient race already.

What we need to apply is some of the pressures that made Humanity Human. One of the things I always go to is that Humans are hugely adaptive to their environment. We have managed to spread across so many different biomes as a single species because we are capable of using tools to modify our environment to suit our needs. If we get thirsty, we can either seek water or dig wells. If it gets cold we make tents, light fires, and put on the skins of what we ate last week. We figured out we could take the stick we used to kill a small animal and tie a rock to it, so we could kill a bigger animal. How do we spur that development?

In order to build the kind of adaptability, the species needs to remember a lot of disparate information and it needs to be able to synthesize and communicate that as well.

Make the Biome they come from highly variable. Maybe a confluence of multiple biomes. A forest bordering on a swamp on one side and a grassland on the other. Each biome has something the Vanara needs to thrive. Each biome has it's own foods and predators, and the predators have a varied number of ways to kill the Vanara. This is a lot of varied information that the species needs to internalize. Maybe this will spur the development of a good long term memory. It should also spur a degree of adaptability.

Next, they need to communicate what they know to the next generation. This will take some time. Humans don't reach full development for a very long time. If your Vanara do something similar, you can easily pass the knowledge needed for survival to the next genereation.

I know there is a whole host of other factors, but these are the most likely to me.

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Reduced Jaw Muscle

The brain of primates is slightly smaller than the brain of a human, which is thought to be the main reason for the intelligence gap between the species. The reasons why a monkey's brain is smaller is simple - the cranium is smaller, because the jaw muscles are bigger. Monkeys like eating things like nuts, and they need powerful jaws to crunch those things. But, a mutation weakening the jaw muscle is believe to be the primary cause of intelligence in humans.

And that's pretty much it if you want a sapient monkey. That's the sole mutation you'd need. So you'd need a viable source of food that doesn't require powerful jaws, and you'd be set. Do note that they would still be monkeys, and thus do not possess the full anatomy of humans (such as the ability to throw things accurately over great distances), but that's the anatomy you want to adjust.

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The Vanara could be humans, that saw people with unique traits, such as tails or thick hair over the body, as special in some way, and gave them a higher place in their society. This would likely result in many individuals being born with these traits, as the people who had these traits would have more children due to having a higher status and therefore having the resources to have more children. These people, from an outside perspective, might resemble humanoid monkeys

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