We learn more every year about how “we” came about and evolved.
For example, I very recently learned that we have NO need for 5 toes per foot. The little ‘piggy who went to market’ toe is entirely superfluous. The big toe, by contrast, is essential to walking, and the other three are helpful.
How then do we have the extra toes? The answer is that they are part of our original equipment. For example, look at the hands and feet of chimpanzees. They are pretty much the same because the chimps do pretty much the same things with both their hands and feet. Fossil evidence indicates that Neanderthals, our closest evolutionary forebearers, had five toes on each foot. Five toes, in fact, was common for prehistoric animals of all sorts. (For those interested in such things, The Evolutionary History of the Human Foot may sate your curiosity.)
On a larger, longer scale of things, that tells me that we have not changed physically as much as we have mentally.
Scientists are still quite baffled about when and how our sapiens ancestors broke off and developed from the species that preceded them.
We still have prehensile tails. Males still have breasts and nipples, for no apparent purpose (further evidenced by Adam Levine’s shirtless performance at last month’s Super Bowl). At the same time, we never developed a host of features that would be useful – such as an eye in the back of our head, which could protect us in crowded, dangerous forests as well New York City traffic.
It is not clear how we communicated back then. And, it still is not clear to some of us how we communicate now, with social media confusing a great many of us much of the time.
The basic unit of most animal and human lives is ‘the family’— mother, children and sometimes a father, but that is NOT a universally observable truism.
How those basic units of animals and, more recently, humans evolved into larger units to ensure their survival and enhance progenation has long been studied by sociologists and anthropologists. But, they may have gotten lost in a forest of confusion by looking for sensible developments, when they might have found more important fundamental truths had they not assumed that more complexity was the inevitable path.
The fact is that, even with all the advances in all forms of communications, work, travel, etc. we are all still pretty basic creatures.
We need and like to sleep. We need and like to eat. We need and like to make babies. We need and at least try to have friends—not too many, not too few. We need money to do most things. We love freedom in all varieties – movement, thought and voice.
And perhaps most of all, we do not want ‘others’ (government) telling us what to do or not to do.
None of that has really changed much since our Neanderthal cousins exited the evolutionary stage, except that over time more people have been able to realize the basic needs of humanity.
So why then do we assume that we have evolved into a form of sapiens that is better adapted to the modern world?