A Bold New Theory Proposes That Humans Tamed Themselves

A leading anthropologist suggests that protohumans' decrease in reactive aggression, alongside developing greater intelligence, cooperation, and social learning abilities, were key to homo sapiens becoming what we are today. These just happen to be the characteristics that increase when humans domesticate animals. In an article reviewing the new theory is is suggested that, perhaps, we domesticated ourselves too.

"Kaiunbashi Bridge (First National Bank in Snow)" by Kobayashi Kiyochika. It comes from a series of prints "Pictures of Famous Places in Tokyo" (1876–81) where the artist focused on how light, from the new technologies that were being introduced, were transforming Tokyo. The Meiji Restoration had just occurred and industrialization and westernization being rushed in by the new government. The artist’s presentations of dawn, dusk, and night evoked a pensive mood suggesting a personal uncertainty in a moment of major societal change.

Lapis lazuli enjoyed great popularity in the late Roman and Early Byzantine periods; its rich purple-blue color was associated with royalty. From the 200s on, coins and medallions often showed the emperor carrying a scepter topped with an eagle, emblem of victory and authority. This particular lapis lazuli eagle was found in Italy and dates to the 300s or 400s CE, meaning it may very well have once perched on a Roman emperor’s scepter.

This ceramic storage jar is decorated using brown-on-buff pottery, known as Sialk, after the site where it was found in northern Iran. Sialk pottery flourished in the fourth millennium BCE thanks to the abundance of clay in the area. In the fourth millennium B.C. in central and southwestern Iran, painted decoration on pottery like this large jar reached a new level of sophistication. Combinations of geometric patterns, birds, and animals were silhouetted in dark brown on buff clay.

This particular storage jar is a masterful example of Sialk pottery, and early pottery making in genearal. It is stylized, yet dynamic, with the mountain goat/ibex's horns echoing the jar's curves and the circular bands the ibex stands upon emphasizing the jar's girth. The pattern of geometric shapes framing an ibex is repeated three times around the jar so a ibex is visible from any angle. From the slightly irregular shape of the pot, it seems the jar either was built up by hand with coils of clay or was thrown on a slow wheel.

Pram on a Sledge, Switzerland 1926.

My favorite detail is the lady sharing a smile with the child. My second favorite detail is the stuffed pig, perched in the child's lap.

The Ability to Adapt Gave Homo Sapiens an Edge

Humans are pretty adaptable compared to other hominin species, and other apes, which may have been key to the survival of our species. Most animals stick to particular habitats, or are wide-ranging, and based on that scientists classify species on a continuum between generalist and specialist.

But homo sapiens are unique in that they can specialize, and they can generalize. We are specialist-generalists. Some humans have adapted intensively to one ecological niche, most famously high-altitude zones, while other wander across ecological zones. Yet we are still all one species, able to intermarry, or switch regions and adapt. That makes homo sapiens unique across species.

The Lady of Elx or Lady of Elche, a limestone bust that was discovered in 1897, at an archaeological site two kilometers south of Elche, Spain. It dates to the 300s BCE. It looks very unique to the Iberian peninsula -- look at those wheel-like coils -- but there is the suggestion of Greek influence on the sculpture's face.

Newly Discovered Bat-Like Dinosaur Reveals the Intricacies of Prehistoric Flight

About 160 million years ago the first feathered dinosaurs started stretching their wings and taking to the skies. Not all flying dinosaurs were built the same, however. Discoveries in China are revealing at least one dinosaur family had bat-like wings -- rather than bird-like wings. In 2015 the first bat-like dinosaur was found and named Yi Qi. Recently, a second bat-like dinosaur related to Yi has been found. Though the recently-discovered Ambopteryx longibrachium was likely a glider, rather than a flier, the fossil is helping scientists discover how dinosaurs first took to the skies. And it proves that Yi Qi was not a one-off (like platypuses today) but an alternate evolutionary path for airborne dinosaurs.

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    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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