What sets humans apart from animals

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what sets humans apart from animals

The Book of Humans: The Story of How We Became Us by Adam Rutherford

We like to think of ourselves as exceptional beings, but is there really anything special about us that sets us apart from other animals? Humans are the slightest of twigs on a single family tree that encompasses four billion years, a lot of twists and turns, and a billion species. All of those organisms are rooted in a single origin, with a common code that underwrites our existence. This paradox - that our biology is indistinct from all life, yet we consider ourselves to be special - lies at the heart of who we are.

In this original and entertaining tour of life on Earth, Adam Rutherford explores how many of the things once considered to be exclusively human are not: we are not the only species that communicates, makes tools, utilises fire, or has sex for reasons other than to make new versions of ourselves. Evolution has, however, allowed us to develop our culture to a level of complexity that outstrips any other observed in nature.

THE BOOK OF HUMANS tells the story of how we became the creatures we are today, bestowed with the unique ability to investigate what makes us who we are. Illuminated by the latest scientific discoveries, it is a thrilling compendium of what unequivocally fixes us as animals, and reveals how we are extraordinary among them.

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Published 17.09.2019

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Humans are clearly distinct from the rest of the animal kingdom yet, scientifically speaking, it's difficult to say exactly why. Thomas Suddendorf.
Adam Rutherford

What sets us apart from the animals?

Y ou are an animal, but a very special one. But what a special simian you are. Shakespeare crystallised this thought a good years before Charles Darwin positioned us as a creature at the end of the slightest of twigs on a single, bewildering family tree that encompasses 4bn years, a lot of twists and turns, and 1 billion species. How infinite in faculty! We are special, but we are also merely matter. We are animals, yet we behave like gods. This is the central question in understanding our place in the scheme of evolution.

Not so fast, says Melissa Hogenboom, a few things make us different from any other species. The two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in killed around , Japanese people. No other species has ever wielded such power, and no species could. The technology behind the atomic bomb only exists because of a cooperative hive mind: hundreds of scientists and engineers working together. The same unique intelligence and cooperation also underlies more positive advances, such as modern medicine. But is that all that defines us?

The cerebral cortex is what separates human beings from other species. It regulates language and intelligence and gives us the ability to form ideas and express them. This gives us an advantage over other species that may have larger brains than we have. Whales may have a pound brain, but they use most of their brain power telling their bodies to move through water. Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.

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Make sense of a disrupted world. Stephen Cave. Report a mispronounced word. You might think that we humans are special: no other species has, for example, landed on the moon, or invented the iPad. So if such achievements are what makes us human then I must be relegated to the beasts, except in so far as I can catch a little reflected glory from true humans such as Neil Armstrong or Steve Jobs. Fortunately, there are other, more inclusive, ideas around about what makes us human. Not long ago, most people in the west were happy with the account found in the Bible: we are made in the image of God — end of argument.

Search RN. Humans are clearly distinct from the rest of the animal kingdom yet, scientifically speaking, it's difficult to say exactly why. Thomas Suddendorf takes a look at how mankind achieved its position of global dominance and what that means for the future of our species and the planet. We humans tend to think of ourselves as better than, or at least separate from, all other species on this planet. Yet every species is unique, and in that sense humans are no different. Still, it does seem obvious that there is something extra special about us: After all, we are the ones running the zoos. When I was growing up, everyone seemed to believe that God had created us and had bestowed us dominion over the animals.

3 thoughts on “The Book of Humans: The Story of How We Became Us by Adam Rutherford

  1. Despite our intuition that humans are a species distinct from other animals, attempts to define what makes us unique continue to confound.

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