The Ever Growing Dominance of Sapiens

The cognitive revolution is “the point when history declared its independence from biology.” (Harari, pg. 37) Homo sapiens gained the ability to transmit larger quantities of information about themselves, social relationships and things that don’t really exist. They also started planning and carrying out complex actions, form larger cohesive groups and cooperate with strangers (Harari, pg. 37). These traits play a huge role in the development of human civilizations. In my opinion one of the biggest factors is learning to cooperate with strangers. This allows small family groups to combine different ideas and methods for gathering food. When these groups are able to combine efforts, it gives them more time to focus on other tasks which may be the basis for developing new technology. The agricultural revolution is when Homo sapiens changed the way of life to “manipulate the lives of a few plant and animal species.” (Harari, pg. 77) The domestication of plants was the first to come, with wheat, rice, maize, potatoes, millet and barley, which makes up 90% of the human caloric intake today. Next to come was the domestication of animals which further promoted humans to live in smaller areas of land. The agricultural revolution was the final push that was needed for Homo sapiens to form more complex societies. This method of food production boosted the population growth that led to the formation of towns and cities.

Harari argues that sapiens became dominant through new ways of thinking and communicating (Harari, pg. 21) He uses the phrase “Tree of Knowledge mutation (pg. 21)” to explain that a genetic mutation changed the wiring in the brain. I find this a very logical argument. Even though it seems weird that such a small change would cause the extinction of several other dominant species, it could very well be possible. I related this to the colonization of America. The decline of the Native American population happened without a genetic mutation and was only stopped because they gave up there land. A similar situation could have happened but the sapiens expansion kept growing.

One thought on “The Ever Growing Dominance of Sapiens”

  1. I think I can see some validity in Harari’s argument as well. I think the cognitive revolution is pretty amazing. It is frustrating that we don’t know why it happened or how Neanderthals were overtaken. I think that it makes sense that a group of people could work together and overcome the much stronger Neanderthals. One of the possibilities that I think Harari leaves out is that the cognitive revolution may have happened because of some need for change to continue the species’ survival. Whatever this pressing need had been may have forced the Neanderthals to die out. However, I understand that Harari has done a lot more research than I have and he may have left this out due to the lack of evidence. Whatever the reason, I do see validity in his claim of the replacement theory as well.

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