Our ancestors were mostly hunter gatherers and they might have collaborated with the Neanderthal to hunt woolly mammoths for food and material. Then something happened to the latter causing them to become extinct. Suppose in an alternate timeline, could our ancestor species be able to evolve with the ability to fly so that jealousy got the better of the Neanderthal, which would proof disastrous.

To qualify as flying, our ancestors must be able to stay airborne for at least 20 minutes unaided (meaning no tools allowed) and the minimum time for deceleration should be at least 1 minute.

  • $\begingroup$ That depends on what wingspan you allow for our ancestor birds. The azhdarchids, flying pterosaurs of the Cretaceous with weights comparable to humans, had wingspans up to 11 meters (36 feet). How those huge wings evolved into human arms is left as an exercise. Ah, and the extinction of the Neanderthals is exagerated; they are the ancestors of very many of us. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 23 '17 at 2:10
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Anatomically Correct Angels $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Aug 23 '17 at 6:55
  • $\begingroup$ With technology just as they eventually did, it wouldn't fit all your criteria though. Long-lived multi-cell organisms just do not change fast enough naturally. The reign of the Neanderthal was way too short. Even if they did, they would never all learn how to fly, several different species would've developed over millions of years, maybe one of them would've been able to fly. $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Aug 23 '17 at 8:24

Our (very old) ancestors did evolve flight. We call them bats, birds, and bugs.

In all seriousness though, no. Humans cannot evolve the ability to fly while still being recognizable as human. We are far too heavy to be able to fly.

We can estimate the size wing that a human would need to fly by looking at the wings that let humans fly. A hang glider is a small fabric and metal wing that humans can use to glide through the air provided they run fast enough off a hill under favorable conditions. These contraptions weigh upwards of 20kg and have a wingspan of over 9m. They only get that light when using modern materials and manufacturing techniques. Evolving something similar would have a large period of time where the offspring would be increasingly less fit, which is something that doesn't happen with evolution.

  • $\begingroup$ This is so close to answering the OP's question. If the chiropterans (bats, for those who don't know) had filled the niche for humans in an alternative evolutionary scenario. Smart bats is a nifty idea. Paleaolithic hang gliders is a hard ask. Again a great idea. Cavemen hang-gliding is fantastic! It takes high tech materials to make what seems like a simple device to work. Plus one for the cool concepts. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Aug 23 '17 at 12:29

If, by "evolve with the ability to fly", you mean some creature similar to human, but with a pair (or more) of wings then answer is: "no chance in whatever time span you have in mind" (reason for this, in case you are interested, is the "four limbs" pattern was "chosen" by evolution about 385 million years ago and has never changed since; no way to grow another pair of whatever starting from more modern vertebrates; this means no angels, no centaurs, sphinx, etc. unless you reboot good part of evolution).

If you mean "their arms would be turned in wings" then it would be theoretically possible, but it would take millions of years (Neanderthals went extinct just about 40k years ago) and would require a serious drive, which I cannot see in our past.

Evolution works in very slow and bloody steps, unfortunately. I guess Pokémon are responsible for a lot of misconceptions floating around.

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    $\begingroup$ Please do not blame Pokemon for this They have simplified a lot of things but they have also introduced them to a whole generation $\endgroup$ Aug 23 '17 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Bougainville: sorry, I do not concur. They introduced the word, twisting, not just "simplifying", its meaning. To explain what Evolution really is you have to dismantle whatever misconception they induced in cartoon-watchers first. Starting with the idea Evolution can happen in a single individual. $\endgroup$
    – ZioByte
    Aug 23 '17 at 8:26
  • $\begingroup$ @ZioByte Not to mention physics. I have watched a great variety of horror or porn movies and it never made me unconfortable since I'm no longer a teenager. On the other hand, when I see a pokemon gain kilograms, sometimes more than dozens/hundreds of kg, in a blink, I'm not afraid to admit that I'm shocked by both the violence that should directly follow it and the fact that it's ignored. $\endgroup$
    – ksjohn
    Aug 23 '17 at 10:01

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