Notices
Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Did Humanity Get Lucky?

  1. #1 Did Humanity Get Lucky? 
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Driving in my car
    Posts
    5,520
    What is guiding our evolution? It seems to me that outwardly, humans have no physical attribute naturally designed to either prevent themselves from being eaten or to kill food for sustenance. We're weak, slow, lack a killer set of jaws or claws, body armor or other defensive mechanisms. Many animals possess evolved means of defense and others are evolving in an effort to crack those defenses. Not sure what would be first though, defense or offense as a catalyst for evolution?

    How is it that our ancestors, a pathetically weak creature physically, somehow avoided extinction from predation by creatures so well equipped for killing? I don't think we suddenly conquered the world the first time homo sapiens showed up. I have to believe that an incredible stroke of luck somehow isolated us from predators for a considerable amount of time to allow us to fully reach our potential to dominate what is essentially a very hostile and violent environment.


    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Guest
    Quite simple. Similar species to us were remarkably more agile and brute in strength, yet we survived because of one key aspect in particular. Intelligence. We invented spears, the other species did not.

    Also, our ancestors could run their prey until death. That is, hardly, anything to be weak about. comparing ancient ancestors with how stupidly feeble most humans are today isn't fair whatsoever.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cardiff, Wales
    Posts
    5,810
    don't forget the importance of living in social groups - it helps individual survival rates, makes it easier to trap prey or drive a single predator from its kill

    also, it helps to be a large species, since there's not all that many predators that will take you on - granted we're not in the elephant / rhino league, but as far as mammals are concerned we're in the top 10% for size
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Forum Ph.D. Cat1981(England)'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    South Downs.
    Posts
    913
    Also through intelligence we were able to invent traps to do all the dangerous work for us as well as make allies with animals such as dogs.
    Eat Dolphin, save the Tuna!!!!
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Driving in my car
    Posts
    5,520
    Our ancestors were probably physically stronger than today's version of man. I'll pit any one of them against a lion, one on one, and see who comes out a winner. Our hominid ancestors could outrun their predator you say, but put a running apeman against a pack of lions and see how he does. Naturally there is safety in numbers but I was intimating that man didn't just suddenly form large groups and circle the women and children like a herd of muskox when approached. If our closest ancestors came out of the trees unto the grasslands then they should have been exposed to great danger from predators with a long established patterns for making a kill. I guess what I'm thinking is how did our early ancestors buy time to evolve into homo sapiens? Did they catch a break?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cardiff, Wales
    Posts
    5,810
    chimps already live in social groups - they use branches and sticks to discourage leopards from getting too close, they hunt monkeys in coordinated efforts
    it's just that at some point Homo erectus got better at doing this type of thing + Homo sapiens made a further step forward by doing things the clever way rather than using brute force

    btw, why is this thread in pseudo-science ?
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,120
    Many prey species members survive predation but not all.

    Consider all the prey animals that exist today and their defenceless design. Yet they perpetuate. Whether it be due to their number or the volume of reproduction.

    NOT ALL of early man survived predation, but some did and they were enough to keep our species going.

    The rest has been said already.

    Meanwhile in terms of physical strength, I suspect we are devolving due to the introduction of 'convenient' living and machines to do manual jobs for us. Fat, lazy motha *****'s and so on.
    'Time is the space between birth and death' by me.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,120
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    If our closest ancestors came out of the trees unto the grasslands then they should have been exposed to great danger from predators with a long established patterns for making a kill. I guess what I'm thinking is how did our early ancestors buy time to evolve into homo sapiens? Did they catch a break?

    Fire



    Below is a more comprehensive answer:

    http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/humanevol.html


    "So what's so great about the genus Homo? How did we manage to survive with our little teeth and useless fingernails, and not even much fur to protect us from the sun and the cold?

    First, being upright may have been a plus. It allows one to see over tall grass and to keep one's head above water when wading in rivers and lakes. It allows for a somewhat faster land speed than our primate relations (although much slower than four-legged creatures who liked to dine on our ancestors). And being upright leaves our hands free to carry things such as food and tools and to throw rocks at enemies.

    Which leads right into our second plus: We have great hands that let us hold and manipulate things well. It would have been difficult to start making tools without that opposable thumb!

    Third, we were excellent vocalizers, with great vocal cords, mouth, tongue and lip movement, and breath control. Lots of potential for communication!

    And last, but not least, we had a large brain to begin with. Being relatively weak, we were able to think fast on our feet, and those that could think faster lived longest and left the most descendents -- and so the brain continued to develop. In addition, there was plenty of room for language to develop as a special adaptation of all that vocalization.

    There are other things about us that are curious. For example, why are we so relatively hairless with such plentiful layers of fat under our skin? One theory is that at least some of our ancestors spent an inordinate amount of time in the water, and we were on our way to evolving in the general direction of other water dwellers. There are many other traits that support the idea, such as our downward-pointing nostrils, the amount of fat on our newborns, the way we can hold our breath (something that also helps with vocalization), and even the curious habit of weeping!


    It is also likely that we began using fur and plant coverings -- clothing -- relatively early. Ancestors with less hair may have had a small but significant advantage in such a case, since they may have had fewer problems with disease-carrying insects living between skin and clothes, and would be able to cool off and dry off more easily depending on conditions.

    Another oddity about human beings is our rather strong sexuality. In this regard, we are similar to one our nearest relatives, the bonobo chimps, who are even "sexier" than we are! They apparently use highly promiscuous sexual contact, even between close relatives, to support social bonds in the group. In human beings, the strong sexual interest that women have (as opposed to the females in many other species) may have developed as a way of keeping the father of a woman's babies around as a helper.

    What's next for Homo sapiens? It seems unlikely that we will be doing too much dramatic evolving, because we are no longer hidden away in isolated ecological niches where mutations have a chance to make their play for survival. Instead, we should move into a phase where we become increasing homogeneous (pardon the pun) as all our different lines of descent begin to intermingle as they have never done before. Only a few features that strongly contribute to success in life -- like intelligence -- are likely to continue to evolve.


    With the completion of the human genome project and the development of various genetic interventions, we may make considerable progress towards eliminating the genetic sources of all kinds of problems. Our descendents will, with any luck, be much healthier than we are. We may even be able to deal with some of the genetic bases for psychological problems such as those underlying anxiety disorders, depression, and schizophrenia.

    Don't misunderstand: There will be plenty of room for individual variation based on the complexity of our non-pathological genetics, as well as the enormous contribution that culture and upbringing and individual learning make to our personalities! "
    'Time is the space between birth and death' by me.
    Reply With Quote  
     

Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •