Posted by: Ashfaq Ahmad
Why Homo sapiens is the only species
or the past several thousand years, we have become so accustomed to seeing our species alone that it is hard for us to even imagine that once there existed more species of humans on earth but the species named Homo sapiens, which emerged from East Africa, migrated from Africa and established its dominance over the entire global stage resulting in extinction of all the other species.
Since then, we are the only species and Manu-Shatrupa, Adam and Eve very conveniently typify the fantasy of the earliest human beings, we believe in blindly. But imagine what would have happened to these stories if those extinct species had also survived.
Then what would be the identity of these primitive pairs? According to which principle, stories after death would have been formed and the concept of reincarnation was then bound within these ethnic boundaries or the soul would have travelled from Sapiens to Denisova and out of it to Neanderthals and would all the species have been believing the same divine concept?
Homo erectus playing the longest innings
However, if we understand the journey of human development properly, Homo erectus has played the longest innings in the past and breaking its record is not possible for our species as well. Homo sapiens begin their journey from one and a half lakh years ago and they gradually spread around the world, migrating from Africa seventy thousand years ago.
And except for the initial conflicts, ever since the agrarian revolution took place and this species started maturing as organized societies, we have progressed so much within a very short period of time that consequences of this have been limited to the possibility that in next just one thousand years, we will either leave our planet and become a space-wandering species or will end up being a victim of fight, famine, horribly unbalanced earth’s reactive catastrophic disasters or some kind of global infection.
And our the total journey on earth will not last even two lakh years whereas Homo erectus has played two million years long innings. We do not know exactly when, where and how the species classified as Homo sapiens evolved but most scientists are of the opinion that those people identified as Sapiens had come into existence about one and a half lakh years ago in several parts of East Africa who were almost like us in appearance.
In such a situation the question is obvious that if we believe the origin of Sapiens from there, then where did we reach in one and a half lakh years, and how could Homo erectus not progress despite being in existence for two million years? And in the journey of millions of years, they remained in their initial stage and disappeared one day. What difference did they and us have?
Nobody has a clear answer to this. Everything is based on guesses. If we want to understand this, it can be understood in the way that all the species of humans were evolved from an ape (Darwin’s Theory of Evolution) but those qualities always remained in them and still exist in all the creatures (except humans) that their whole life moves around three points — food, danger and reproduction.
How Homo sapiens survived
Language comes much later in the journey of human development but the definite signs of communication have been from the earliest stages and are found in all organisms. Communication between all large organisms is based upon these three points. Even the earliest species of humans were not free from it. In a few harsh words, they were evolved from animals and lived the same lifelike animals.
There were small groups (in the absence of language and common myths for mutual cooperation larger groups could not be formed) and there were no permanent locations. Wandering around in search of food and spending all energy in this quest. There was no taboo like them today i.e. monogamy. Anyone could sleep with anyone and no paternal identity of the children was fixed. They used to be the common property of the group.
They limited their entire journey to these three points and all species of that period (including the later Homo sapiens) followed the same rule and in today’s date we define them as food hunters or food collectors. Any fertile valley or region could feed around five hundred primitive humans hence the groups lived in that area accordingly and when the number of members would increase, they would divide into separate groups. All this went on for millions of years and no such progress was made by those species that we can imagine or have seen.
Then what happened that Homo sapiens established dominance over the entire world, destroyed the rest of the species and in a way in just ten thousand years, they progressed at such a stormy pace that not only the earth, humans have now started thinking about settling on the other planets too.
Development of language
In order to understand this, a notion is given that in the period of seventy thousand and thirty thousand years ago, ways of thinking and communicating, which we know as cognitive revolution emerged. What caused it? We are not sure about. But a valid theory is that an accidental genetic mutation changed the inner wiring of the Sapiens’ brains enabling them to think and understand differently, and to communicate using language. Now why this mutation did not occur in the minds of Neanderthals rather than Sapiens, who had bigger brains in size than Sapiens, scientists have no clear opinion about.
The major differences between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens were the language revolution that occurred thirty thousand years ago and the agrarian revolution twelve thousand years ago which brought us here in such a short time compared to them and the most terrible aspect of this fastest journey of development is that the scientific revolution that took place just five hundred years ago has not only given an unlimited speed to our development but also moving ourselves or our planet towards the end very fast.
Originally published at WordSmith on August 10, 2019.