Ever wondered why there are so many humans and not so many other creatures around you. What has made human’s the alpha? Why no other creature speaks English, Nepali or Telugu? What happened around 80,000 years ago that completely changed the fate of earth and other creatures? Why so many creatures are found just in fossils today? Can other plants and animals think like us and if they can, why aren’t they revolting against us?
As a human I am intrigued by the sheer number of fellows around me and my identity appears to be as lost as a grain of sand on a south Indian seashore. Ever been to a Hindu festival in India, it appears as if oblivion itself has descended upon the earth in all its magnificence. The sheer number of crowds is unimaginable and yet there is harmony and coordination in between despite such massive gatherings. Occasional violence is accounted rarely in such festivities. Ever been part of a revolution, the number of people coordinating and raising the same agenda is mind boggling. Be it religion, revolution, money or any other abstract entity whose existence is a shared social construct, humans have somehow decoded the idea of cooperation and coexistence. No other animal displays such immense behavior on such large scales. A pride of lions may increase up to 40 or 50, a group of chimpanzees may increase to 200. Anything beyond that invite’s complete chaos. For a lion to share space with another lion they have to know each other personally. And the same goes to other species. Any intruder beyond that has to flee or die. There is no concept of social construct beyond kin for other species. There is no concept of trade either. You have to arrange your food. A monkey cannot exchange its fruit with another monkey for a glass of water.
Gossip also plays very important role in evolution of humans. Nothing sort of miracle happened thousands of years ago that diverted the course of nature and gave rise to a species that would go on to challenge creation itself. Fiction can only be conceived or generated by humans and no other creatures. The very thing that we disguise ourselves from, actually differentiated us and made what we are today. The idea to talk about so many things is unique to us. The notion of connecting the links and finding meaning in them makes us so distinct. This ability to connect the dots and find meaning out of thoughts is known as cognition. When we look at different thing, our mind works hard to find patterns and data. This is what enables us to solve problems and look for optimization. Other animals appear to have very limited cognitive ability and they suffer poorly from this in front of us.
Around 70,000 years ago various species of humans co-existed, and Neanderthals were among the smartest ones. They had bigger cranial capacities than us, which made them very advanced for that age. They had the ability to distinguish edible mushrooms from poisonous ones, by sensing the air quality they could forecast rains etc. It is said that when homo sapiens and Neanderthals first faced each other, sapiens received a bigger battering from their nearest counterparts. But with their ability to cooperate, sapiens formulated plans and ideas and actually worked in groups. This behavior eventually led the homo sapiens to become the deadliest species on the planet wiping out nearly 90 percent of large mammals. There was a time when more than 9 species co-existed. But as the sapiens become more mature all others perished.
Today we take our abilities for granted. One on one, we are no match for a wild animal. But it is the groups that make us the deadliest. No animal prays directly on humans because of the reasons they learned during these evolutionary years. Only those beings were able to survive which either got domesticated by humans or stayed far away from us. In today’s world we talk about war, terrorism and religion as the dividing forces and how the world is moving towards chaos. However, all these things remind us of how we came to such a state where we can talk about all these abstract things.