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Cognitive Revolution (2) Mass Extinctions



Where are the cousins?


Scientists have been puzzled by the sudden spread of humans around 70,000 years ago. Many theories have been explored. Ellsworth Huntington (1876-1947), a leading proponent of environmental determinism, argued that climate changes prompted human migrations. Early anthropologists like Lewis Henry Morgan (1818-1881) and Edward Burnett Tylor (1832-1917) tried to explain it as part of a broader gradual progression towards modern human civilization, downplaying the abrupt shift in human nature. By the 1960s and 1970s, scholars like Merlin Donald helped the concept of a "Cognitive Revolution" emerge, accepting the significant leap in cognitive ability that enabled Homo sapiens to develop complex language, abstract thinking, and sophisticated tools like warm sewn clothing, boats and bows and arrows. Such tools would be necessary for humans to migrate across the planet, as shown in the map below.



The mass migration of humans and mass extinction of large mammals everywhere humans went, happened over a very short period of time. From 50,000 years ago until about 10,000 years ago, humans went from being isolated in Africa, to spreading out across nearly the entire planet, including the very bottom tip of South America. Early humans had been around since around 3 Million years ago. By comparison, 50,000 years is only 1.6% of the history of human species. At the time of the Cognitive Revolution, there were at least six other human species. By 10,000 years ago...every single one had dies out, along with many other mammals such as the giant kangaroo, ground sloth, European lion, and American mastodon.



Scientists are careful not to state anything as fact without conclusive evidence. There are only two things that could have happened to our cousins...one of which was the Neanderthals which had until then survived for over 2 Million years. Either they starved because Homo Sapiens at all their food sources, or they were systematically and deliberately killed by Homo Sapiens...essentially an early act of genecide. The fact that none of our human cousins exist is an important fact. We homo sapiens didn't kill all the large mammals that made for easy food. We also know a lot about how humans have treated each other when we observe even minor difference in appearance, such as skin color, how we dress, and even hair styles. Suffice to say that we humans have an ugly past...one that reflects ancestors we can still observe today like Chimpanzees that regularly and deliberately kill each other, and other species of monkeys in order to control territory and food supply.



"This may not seem very important, I know, but it is, so I'm bothering telling you so.” - Dr Seuss


Humans today disagree as we should ... about what is true, right and good. We think we understand what we see through visual cues ... as we obsess over fashion and watching the news. We think we understand suffering and the root cause of hate ... throwing around words like racism, sexism, and other "isms" to morally navigate. But if you really want know these things you need to look deeper. You need to explore who you are, where you came from...you must be a seeker. If you want to know why you need to learn a whole lot... ...about what is true, and discard what is not. -- Stay tuned for our next chapter on the Cognitive Revolution!

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