reply to post by Belcastro
I've never had a problem with the general picture which the theory of evolution presents.
- where did all our fur go?
Nowhere. Do you have hair on your head? Your arms, armpits, your legs, other places? Facial hair? Instead of a body completely covered in fur, like
apes and monkeys, we retained a lesser amount, but we still have it all over us. It even stands on end when we're frightened, possibly as a genetic
throwback to a time when we had more, and could use it to make ourselves look bigger if threatened.
Why did the majority of it go away?
I can't say for sure, but my understanding is that during our evolution we began sticking to coastal regions for sustenance, fishing, hunting, and
protection from land predators which couldn't swim. You'll notice that having a thick, furry body is not conducive to swimming. Perhaps we began to
"shed" our thicker coat of fur to make use of rivers, lakes, and oceans more effectively.
- Specialization in tasks
My understanding is that fire contributed a lot to this change. The animal kingdom may have better eyesight, sharper claws, more powerful legs, and
other predatory advantages. What the animal kingdom doesn't have though, is fire.
The discovery of fire changed the whole game.
Being stalked by a wolf? Don't evolve a claw. Set the beast on fire. Camp discovered by lions? Don't just depend on sharp sticks and rocks, set
fires all around the camp (a practice still used by tribes in Africa today). Bears? Buffalo? Large land animals? Fire. Set them on fire, trap them
with fire, ward them with fire. And, most importantly, cook them with fire
Some evolutionary theory supports the idea that, because of fire, we began to cook the meat of hunted prey. Meat, as a source of protein, was one
factor (along with carbs) that lead to the development of our brains. As our brains developed, our perception of the world changed.
With the ability to analyze and explore the world cognitively, instead of just on instinctual responses, we were able to build shelters, communities,
cities, and eventually civilizations. We no longer needed to develop specialized skills, because we could put science to work. We invented the wheel,
instead of developing load-bearing backs. We invented the house, instead of thick muscles and strong outer shells.
So on, and so forth.
- The time it took
Again, fire. As well, settling in permanent villages by water. Most animals are scavengers: following herds, living in impermanent settlements, and
spending a large part of the day simply looking for something to eat.
We found a river, made a village, and started hunting fish and surrounding game. We no longer had to continuously migrate and move around to support
ourselves. That opened up a ton of time for our ancestors to sit down, relax, study nature, and start asking questions.
The more questions we asked, the more answers we sought. In seeking those answers we learned about ourselves, and our world more and more. This all
compiled, to create a species which uses it's reason (mostly) to understand the world, instead of emotional instincts.
It was a joint effort of water, secure settlements, the discovery of fire, and free time to think about the world which did it.
~ Wandering Scribe