It’s a listicle, of course, but it’s written by an archaeologist, which is good, but she was the recipient of a Templeton grant, which triggers my skepticism. But she makes 6 points about our history:
Species such as Homo Longi have only been identified as recently as 2018. There are now 21 known species of human.
And 20 of them went extinct. We’re part of a dying tree.
Hybrid species of human, once seen by experts as science fiction, may have played a key role in our evolution. Evidence of the importance of hybrids comes from genetics. The trail is not only in the DNA of our own species (which often includes important genes inherited from Neanderthals) but also skeletons of hybrids.
Our sexy ancestors were mating with everything that looked vaguely human. Keep that in mind when the dudebros are whining about how Western women aren’t meeting their high standards of beauty. They’d fuck a chimp if one offered the opportunity.
However, many of the changes in our human evolutionary lineage maybe the result of chance.
For example, where isolated populations have a characteristic, such as some aspect of their appearance, which doesn’t make much difference to their survival and this form continues to change in descendants. Features of Neanderthals’ faces (such as their pronounced brows) or body (including large rib cages) might have resulted simply from genetic drift.
Oh, dear, the evolutionary psychologist won’t like that. Too bad, it’s true.
The origins of our own species coincided with major shifts in climate as we became more distinct from other species at these points in time. All other species of human seem to have died out as a result of climate change.
…and we’re next, at the rate we’re going.
The trail of human compassion extends back one and a half million years ago. Scientist have traced medical knowledge to at least the time of the Neanderthals.
Altruism has many important survival benefits. It enabled older community members to pass on important knowledge. And medical care kept skilled hunters alive.
We should have listened more closely to Kropotkin, rather than the imperialist colonizers who shaped the early perspectives on evolutionary theory. He was on to something (he also considered climate to be a critical evolutionary force.)
Evolution made us more emotionally exposed than we like to imagine. Like domestic dogs, with whom we share many genetic adaptations, such as greater tolerance for outsiders, and sensitivity to social cues, human hypersociability has come with a price: emotional vulnerabilities.
Counterpoint: Republicans and Tories. Human psychopaths seem to have a decided advantage in the acquisition of power.