How Likely is Intelligent Life?

Two new books tackle the question of life and sentience and, together, they make a strong argument that neither may be as improbable as we thought. … More How Likely is Intelligent Life?

Genes Found that May Explain Expansion of Higher Brain Function in Homo sapiens

In the study of human evolution, one conundrum has always vexed us: how did humans evolve such powerful brains? Few Differences in Chimp and Human DNA The genome of Homo sapiens is remarkably similar to those of  our closest extant relatives, the common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and the pigmy chimpanzee, or bonobo (Pan paniscus). On the sequence level, we … More Genes Found that May Explain Expansion of Higher Brain Function in Homo sapiens

Did Neanderthals Speak?

Humans like to think of ourselves as the only animal that speaks to each other using language. It’s one of the things that “separates us from the animals,” so the saying goes. However, we already know that lots of other animals communicate with each other using vocal-auditory communication. Further, we’re beginning to learn that other … More Did Neanderthals Speak?

The moral codes of other human species

The complex sets of drives and calculations that we call morality rise from our basic human instincts toward reciprocity, fairness, and empathy. These instincts are called prosocial because they promote cohesion and harmony in the social context of herds, packs, and families. However, humans are not alone in having prosocial instincts. Many, indeed MOST, mammals show prosocial … More The moral codes of other human species

Is Violence What Made Humans Smarter than Other Animals?

It is readily apparent that humans are, by far, the most intelligent species on the planet. How this came to be, however, is anything but clear. Our substantial cognitive abilities are made possible by our enormous brains. When it comes to brain size (relative to body size), humans have the largest brains of any vertebrate. … More Is Violence What Made Humans Smarter than Other Animals?