Milestones in Human Evolution

  • Biological development

    • Genus Homo’s position in the food chain was, until quite recently, solidly in the middle.
      • In contrast, humankind ascended to the top so quickly that the ecosystem was not given time to adjust. Moreover, humans themselves failed to adjust.
      • About 2 million years ago until around 10,000 years ago, the world was home, at one and the same time, to several human species.
        • Perhaps this is exactly why our ancestors wiped out the Neanderthals. They were too familiar to ignore, but too different to tolerate.
    • Archaic humans paid for their large brains in two ways. Firstly, they spent more time in search of food. Secondly, their muscles atrophied.
    • It takes a tribe to raise a human.
    • The alpha male usually wins his position not because he is physically stronger, but because he leads a large and stable coalition.
  • Cognitive Revolution

    • Fiction has enabled us not merely to imagine things, but to do so collectively.
    • The ability to transmit larger quantities of information about the world surrounding Homo sapiens, planning and carrying out complex actions, such as avoiding lions and hunting bison, the ability to transmit larger, quantities of information about Sapiens social relationships and larger and more cohesive groups, numbering up to 150 individuals, the ability to transmit information about things that do not really exist, such as tribal spirits, nations, limited liability companies, and human rights resulted in:
      • Cooperation between very large numbers of strangers
      • Rapid innovation of social behaviour
    • Imagined order
      • The imagined order is embedded in natural world.
      • The imagined order shapes our desires.
      • The imagined order is inter-subjective.
      • Humans created imagined orders and devised scripts. These two inventions filled the gaps left by our biological inheritance.
  • Agricultural Revolution

    • Dog was the first animal domesticated by Homo sapiens, and this occured before the Agricultural revolution.
    • The wholesome and varied diet, the relatively short workng week, and the rarity of infectious diseases have led many experts to define pre-agricultural forager societies as the original affluent societies.
    • The sociopolitical world of the foragers is another area about which we know next to nothing.
    • Waves of Extinction
      • “Don’t believe tree-huggers who claim that our ancestors lived in harmony with nature. Long before the Industrial Revolution, Homo sapiens held the record among all organisms for driving the most plant and animal species to their extinctions. We have the dubious distinction of being the deadliest species in the annals of biology.”

      • The First Wave Extinction, which accompanied the spread of the foragers, was followed by the Second Wave Extinction, which accompanied the spread of the farmers, and gives us an important perspective on the Third Wave Extinction, which industrial activity is causing today.