Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

“Sapiens” condensed

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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a fascinating book. You should read it, but this blog post outlines the argument. Note the importance of memes in our evolution as humans.

The post begins:

I spent over 25 hours building a cut-down version of Sapiens. The goal? Future-me should be happy to read this once future-me forgets how we evolved. It’s massive for a blog post, just under 30 minutes, but that’s the best I could do, condensing 9 hours worth of material.

I’ve tried to keep editing to a minimum: It’s the original text, edited to ensure it still flows like the book.

You can get the book here1

The best way of navigating is clicking on the images. These are best experienced on a tablet or a laptop. I’ve also included the table of contents, which work well on every screen size.

. . .

Development of brains

What caused our brains to develop? We’re not sure.

It doesn’t seem likely. A larger brain needs more energy and thus reduces the chance you’ll survive. Getting more energy meant hunting more.

One contributing factor was the domestication of fire. Fire paved the way for cooking.

Whereas chimpanzees spend 5 hours a day chewing raw food, a single hour suffices for people eating cooked food. The advent of cooking enabled humans to eat more kinds of food, to devote less time to eating, and to make do with smaller teeth and shorter intestines. Some scholars believe there is a direct link between the advent of cooking, the shortening of the human intestinal track, and the growth of the human brain. Since long intestines and large brains are both massive energy consumers, it’s hard to have both. By shortening the intestines and decreasing their energy consumption, cooking inadvertently opened the way to the jumbo brains.

And, we weren’t alone. Competing with us were the Neanderthals, among other species. They were stronger, they had bigger brains, and they could survive the cold. How come, then, did we “win”?

We aren’t sure. The most likely answer is the very thing that makes the debate possible: Homo sapiens conquered the world thanks above all to its unique language.

Cognitive Revolution . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 August 2019 at 4:45 pm

Posted in Books, Evolution, Memes, Science

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