The brief ramblings of the slightly sleep deprived on food and evolutionary biology and names and other things of that sort…. (3/16)

Humans are called the “bipedal ape” and the “thinker” and the “toolmaker”. We are named after the things that supposedly differentiate ourselves from the rest of the animal kingdom. Which is only natural; it would be quite impractical to name things specifically after their similarities with other creatures. One would not know which animal was being referred to with out the proper context. But with all this focus on what makes us different, we seem to forget that we are only animals. We walk on two legs, yes. We have larger brains, yes. We use other materials to make up for our physical disadvantages, yes. But these things do not make us better than any cow or cat or crow.

Through out the reading, Wrangham presents his argument that cooking made us human. It was our control of fire and its use in preparing food that allowed us to evolve from homo erectus. Though thus far he has, in my opinion, outlined a fairly reasonable argument, there is this air of arrogance about his writing. He writes as if being human is better than being any other creature, as if humans are superior. He portrays us as the catalysts for our own evolution. His argument I do not believe to be invalid. However, he has yet to mention how we possibly could have discovered the control of fire. In the last chapter, he simply mentioned when it could have possibly began. Which is an important step in developing his thesis, and perhaps I am jumping the gun on this one. Still, Wrangham has failed to mention that the control of fire was most likely a mistake. That does not imply that it is any less significant by any means. The genetic mutations that make evolution possible are almost if not completely random. So far, Wrangham has only presented humanity as brilliant and has failed to recognize our incredible dumb luck.


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One Response to The brief ramblings of the slightly sleep deprived on food and evolutionary biology and names and other things of that sort…. (3/16)

  1. Mr. Sturdy Knight says:

    A fair point, Kasey Jo. We can’t, of course, take credit for the way things have played out to make us the dominant species on this planet. But I want you to consider that supposed turning point, the taming of fire. Many different species were exposed to wildfires on those African plains two million years ago. Antelope. Leopards. Eagles. Australopithecines and habilines, not to mention other proto-apes (the ancestors of modern gorillas and such). And yet, only one species ever managed to turn this terrifying and destructive force into a useful tool. I contend that it might not have been too much a stretch for some other proto-chimp to make that leap, some species similar to but distinct from our ancestors. We were lucky, but I don’t think there wasn’t a little room for individual initiative somewhere back there.

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