The Trouble With Human Evolution

Modern humans have evolved over the past six to seven million years a number of traits that make us, Homo sapiens, a very unique species indeed. We alone of all the mammals (as well as all invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles) have a bipedal gait. We alone of all of our primate cousins are for all practical purposes hairless. Of all the animals that are, or have ever been, we’re top of the pops with respect to brain size as a function of body size, and in terms of intelligence, king of the hill full stop. And while animals can communicate via vocalizations and body language, none can communicate the extremely wide range of practical and especially abstract concepts that we can. Last, but not least, humans are nearly unique in making and using external tools, tools unique in terms of their sophistication.

All five major traits noted above, and a lot more that’s related besides, don’t seem to be a requirement for basic survival, since other species survive and thrive without them, and in fact all these major five defining traits (and more) seem to have some actual evolutionary drawbacks, not the least of which require very serious modifications to basic primate anatomy for apparently no increase in that Darwinian phrase “survival of the fittest”. The proof of that pudding is that our ultimate primate ancestor still survives – the chimpanzee; their ultimate descendent survives –

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the modern human; yet all those in-betweens hominids who were presumably adapting via natural selection resulting in all those evolutionary changing improvements, went kaput – over twenty species of them. If these “survival of the fittest” evolutionary adaptations were all that crash hot and necessary, then why was their demise? Any ancestral hominoids that went extinct prior to 200,000 years ago can’t have Homo sapiens as the villain. Those 20 plus extinct hominid species aside, why aren’t many of those natural selection improvements really so crash hot for us modern humans either? Here’s the trouble with human evolution. But first consider this.

The current standard model of human evolution explains the ‘why’ question due to rapid and extreme shifts in climate in continental Africa over that six to seven million year period. The central problem there IMHO is why these shifts failed to drastically produce evolutionary changes in the rest of the animal populations like elephants, lions, hyenas, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests and other African landlubbers as the Dark Continent went from jungle to forest to savannah to arid deserts and back again.

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