It's also a bit of a visual nod to the famous Scopes Monkey Trial in the US where a substitute high school teacher went on trial in 1925 ...
The legal battle to teach evolutionary theory continues to this day in America.
Oh, thanks, I didn't know that about the US "Scopes Monkey Trial". Amazing. There's something new to learn every day. I would guess that the POTA producers had some fun juxtaposing the contradictions in human society with those in the ape society. "Stupid apes! Oops, that means stupid humans too!" Reminds me of the fun they had in that clever Star Trek episode where the people who lived on two planets circling the same star were perpetually at war - the people on each planet were identical humanoids, except that the ones on planet A had faces which were black on the left vertical half, and white on the right, and the people on planet B had the opposite.
I also had noticed that (as you said) "The legal battle to teach evolutionary theory continues to this day in America.". That's pretty amazing too.
It's all very confusing. There are two main camps. The Theory of Evolution was apparently developed from Darwin's rational thought and observations, and he was a devout Christian, yet the Creationist "theory" is an irrational religio-political ideology favoured by the Christians - and the Islamists too, come to think of it. Mind you, the Islamists apparently also hold that the Jews are descended from apes and
pigs, which is kinda half right per Evolutionary Theory, so they (Islamists) seem to have a foot in both camps to some extent, except the pig thing confuses the heck out of me.
I reckon 2001 could have got it spot-on in any event. We had some help from dem aliens...