The Human Story by Robin Dunbar is another book that I picked from the library on a whim. The book is about human evolution and is written in a way that is interesting and easy to read. I found the book fascinating and enjoyed reading it. Here’s one interesting incident in the book:
The males of the Kasekela community of chimpanzees in the Gombe National Park on the shores of Lake Tanganyika had deliberately set out on a raiding expedition into the territory of the neighbouring Kahama community where they proceeded to wreak a terrible punishment on their unsuspecting victim. It was a pattern to be repeated over the ensuing months, until every one of the six males of the Kahama community had suffered the same fate.
What made it worse was that the Kahama males had all originally been members of the Kasakela community but had moved out to establish their own territory next door only a few years previously. They were all individually well known to their killers.
Seems almost human, doesn’t it? With studies and examples, Dunbar recreates the human story and you learn about how humans evolved into what we are today.
There’s another snippet that I have to include because it is interesting and I’d never heard about it before:
The Japanese field workers who undertook the first studies of wild bonobos in the Congo Basin in the 1970s were astonished and bemused to find that sex seemed to be the sole preoccupation of these unusual apes. They were, quite literally, at it all the time, and in all possible combinations– males with females, females with females, even occasionally males with males.
The bonobos’ particular predilection for sex seemed quite unique in the animal kingdom, and made them seem almost human.
According to Dunbar, what makes humans different from the other species in the animal kingdom is that we tend to have a higher order intentionality as compared to animals. Dunbar addresses the topic of language, music, laughter (which is compared to grooming in the animal kingdom), and religion among other things and keeps you hooked through the length of the book.
If you want to read something that’s interesting and informative, check out The Human Story – A new history of mankind’s evolution.