Facts about Homo Sapiens that You May Not Already Know
Humans often live in family units and build artificial shelter
Perhaps you are considering adding another human being to your household. Or maybe you have no experience at all with human beings, and this will be the first one you encounter. This hub will give you some basic facts about human beings and the necessities without which they cannot live.
Humans, according to the Wikipedia
Homo sapien idaltu
Humans are scientifically classified as homo sapiens sapiens. Their nearest relation, homo sapiens idaltu, is extinct. Their closest living relatives are the common chimpanzee and the bonobo. Humans and chimpanzees can get along just fine if raised together from infancy, but if you already have an adult chimpanzee in your household and are just now thinking of acquiring an adult human being, you will have to keep them separate. Since they both occupy the same ecological niche, humans and chimpanzees who have not grown up together are in natural competition and pose a threat to one another.
In the past humans have been in competition with a number of other hominid species, but they have always managed to drive the others to extinction. In the wild, humans are in the process of exterminating their closest relatives, the great apes: the chimpanzee, the bonobo, the gorilla and the orang utan.
Great care must be taken to keep your humans and your other apes in separate habitats, unless brought up together from infancy.
Bushman language and lineage
Beami People: Papua New Guinea (This video won't embed so click through to YouTube)
Human beings are one of the most intelligent animals on earth and interacting with them can be a real joy, but there are many pitfalls for beginners. Try to educate yourself about humans, before you decide that a human is right for you.
Here are some common misconceptions about human beings:
- Humans come with a ready-made language acquisition device and they will start talking on their own, no matter what you do to them or how they grow up.
- Humans smell bad, and you need a really elaborate sewage system in order to handle their waste products.
- Humans needs shoes and clothes and if you don't give them these necessities they will be unable to walk or go out of doors.
- Humans need to be given elaborately constructed housing, and if you do not provide this for them, they will perish.
- Humans can write, read, draw and cipher, as well as perform great musical, mathematical and artistic feats.
- Humans have no internal mechanism to limit procreation, so they have to be sterilized to avoid overpopulating their habitat.
- Humans have no internal mechanism to limit over-eating, so unless you limit their food intake, they will eat till they burst.
- Humans are greedy and will hoard things, so the only way to make sure a group of them gets along is to distribute toys equally.
- Humans get bored easily, so extra enrichment should be provided for, or else they will start to self-mutilate.
None of the above is true. In the next sections we will discuss what is true about humans.
- Language is Learned
You may have heard it said that all babies have the same linguistic abilities at birth. This is true. They have no linguistic abilities at birth. No child is born knowing language, and early infancy and...
Language does not come built-in
Because so much is made of the ingenious abilities of humans to manipulate language, many mistakenly believe that homo sapiens come with a built-in language module. They do not. Leave a human alone with no companions who speak, and no matter how well the other basic physical needs are met, if the environment does not contain language, language will not emerge. Even if you raise humans in groups of infants, language will still not emerge. Companionship alone is not enough.
When humans are brought up by other humans, the language that does emerge for each new child as speech is acquired turns out to be the language spoken by the people in the child's environment, not the language of the child's genetic ancestors. If you take an infant from his group of origin and raise him among others not genetically related, he will acquire the language that those around him speak. If you raise an infant among non-humans, the language acquired will be the language used by the non-human group, if the human has the physical ability to perceive and produce the signals that the non-human group uses for communication.
If you acquire a human, in order for the human to produce some sort of language, the human must be exposed to language in the environment in which you raise it. Absent this, the human may be perfectly healthy, but will have no access to language.
So if the question is, why isn't my human talking, one answer might be: have you spoken to it? Have you tried to encourage it to talk back? Do you listen to your human?
Language doesn't just happen. Language is learned.
The need for a sewage system is a function of population density
Keeping Humans in An Artificial Environment is Expensive and Requires Special Accommodations
Before you acquire your human, consider the amount of space you have in which to keep it and the amount of expenditure of resources that you are willing to allot to this project. Are humans expensive to keep? Not really, if you keep them in a natural environment, they will feed themselves and take care of all of their needs. But remove them from their natural environment, and they become very expensive.
For instance, you probably already know that humans come from earth, and that they evolved to breathe oxygen and to eat other carbon based life-forms. So, if you are planning to keep them in outer-space in a small enclosure, this will be a very expensive undertaking. Nothing that they need to survive is available in such an environment, and everything will have to be brought in, at great expense to you. Not only that, but you will have to find a way to dispose of their waste product without polluting outer-space.
But if, on the other hand, you breed homo sapiens on their home planet, or on another planet similar enough so that no artificial means are required, they practically raise themselves!
But what about their droppings? You may have heard from others who raise humans that humans are very dirty, that they smell bad, and that they pollute everything they touch. This is not at all true. It depends on how you raise them.
Pollution from humans is a function of population density. When you have very few humans per square mile, then they do not even need a sewage system. They can defecate wherever they like, and their droppings fertilize the ground and help them to grow new food. Everything they produce is biodegradable, and it recycles itself. Keeping humans like this is a very low maintenance job, and it is quite economical.
However, if you allow population density to rise drastically, then they will need a sewage system and many other measures will have to be taken to pay for their keep. Humans do this themselves in many of their cities. A human living in the city is a little like a human in outer-space -- very labor intensive.
So the key to an easy maintenance human habitat is low population density!
Roman Sewage Syste,
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Population Dynamics and Strategies to Limit Procreation
But how do I keep the population of my homo sapiens down, you may be asking yourself. Do I have to periodically exterminate some of them? Or should I sterilize them? The answer is no and no. There are natural methods of population control that work much better.
If you spay and neuter your humans, then you will not be able to maintain a healthy population. Under such conditions, humans will be available only from breeders, and this merely promotes the establishment of human mills, cruel places where all humans ever do is live in overcrowded conditions and breed.
So let's review the facts about human procreation. As you may already know, humans are mammals. They come in two sexes, male and female, and the female does most of the reproductive work -- so the bottleneck for production of new humans is in the female reproductive system.
Human females come equipped with natural birth control. When their body fat falls below a certain level, they will not ovulate, and no new young will be produced. This method is sufficient for hunter-gatherer populations, and will keep population density down, as food supply and food consumption maintain a natural equilibrium.
But what if my humans discover agriculture, you may be asking. Do I have to sterilize them then? No, not necessarily. At this point, social organization becomes really important.
While it is true that human newborns are more or less equally divided among males and females, with perhaps a few more females than males for every hundred born, when they form family units, they don't necessarily form monogamous pairs for life.
Human coupling can fall into the following combinations:
- monogomous pairs for life
- serial monogamy
Let us now consider the reproductive repercussions of each system. Polygamy is the system that is best if you are attempting to grow a sizable population from a small starter group. In a polygamous group, female productivity is optimized, as a single male can fertilize many females a day, while each female takes nine months to bring an infant to term, and about five years to bring the infant to a less dependent state so that the mother can begin to care for another infant. Polyandry is the system that minimizes reproduction. Since the female is the bottleneck for production, having a single female mate with several males who limit themselves to her will produce the fewest number of offspring.
To give an example: If a single male and three females are mated, and each of the females bears four children over a reproductive period of twenty years, then the four individuals will have produced twelve children, which is three children per person, and will cause the population to grow rapdily. In a single generation the population will triple. But if a single female is mated to three males, and she produces four children over a twenty year reproductive span, then there will be four children produced by four individuals, and this represents zero population growth. Various forms of monogamy produce an intermediate result. For instance, a human male and female mated for life might produce four children in a twenty year reproductive span. This is a reproductive rate of only two new humans per individual, but it will mean that the population will double every generation. If you have a limited habitat, you can see that polyandry is the best solution.
The following video is one in which such a reproductive arrangement is featured.
Some Humans Practice Polyandry to Limit Birthrate
Is polyandry the only solution to the population problem among humans who have discovered agriculture? No, but it is a good natural solution that does not require either contraception or abstinence. Once humans arrive at the industrial level of social organization, many contraceptive means will be available to them. Since females are the ones who bear most of the reproductive burden, they should be entrusted with access to contraception. Self interest will help to limit population growth naturally, if those who are responsible for the support of young are given the power to decide for themselves how many young they can support.
Material Objects and Enrichment
Perhaps you have read one of those manuals on keeping your humans happy. Maybe you saw pictures of humans sitting on chairs and wearing shoes and living in palatial residences and eating on tables with implements made from silver and gold. You may be thinking: do I have to provide my humans with all of that? Will they feel deprived if I don't?
Humans don't actually need any of these things to survive or even to thrive. While they enjoy playing with toys, humans do best when they are left to their own devices and allowed to create their own material culture.
Many of the objects humans use are not actually good for them. Take shoes, for example. Someone may have told you that without shoes the human foot is too tender, and that humans cannot even walk unless their feet are shod.
Nothing could be further from the truth. No animal could evolve on its own with such a dependency on objects manufactured by others. Clearly, the human foot is designed to walk and run. If left barefoot, humans develop a strong outer layer to their soles that is impermeable even to the sharpest rocks. The posture of humans is best when they are barefoot. Their highest achievements in speed and endurance for running are when they wear no shoes.
The only human who cannot walk without shoes is a human who has been wearing shoes all his life. It is the use of shoes that creates a dependency on shoes. The same is true for almost every technological advancement created by man.
Shoes -- A bad habit that reduces the ability to run
Some of the world's best runners perform barefoot
1960 Olympic Gold went to Abebe Bikila, who ran barefoot
Ancient Egyptian Chair -- a luxury article only for royalty
Chairs -- Not Necessarily a Healthy Habit
Historically chairs were first available only to humans of very high rank
So what should you do about material objects? The best policy is to do nothing. Let them make their own things and work hard for what they achieve. The striving is what makes them happy.
If you build your human a palace and fill it with toys, he will become bored, destroy his toys and even engage in other self-destructive behavior. But if you allow your human free rein in his own habitat to create whatever he likes from the natural resources at his disposal, you will have a happy, fulfilled human being.
Humans appreciate achievements that they themselves have earned.
But what if some of my humans manage to make bigger and better toys for themselves than some of the others? Should I intervene and redistribute the toys, so that everybody has an equal amount? No!
The less you intervene, the better it will be. If you give a human something he did not earn at the expense of another human, you are corrupting the group, and soon all will become dependent on you to provide them with everything. Leave them alone, and they will take good care of themselves.
Humans and Eating
Are all humans gluttons who will gorge themselves until they burst? Should I put my human on a restricted calorie diet for the sake of its own health? No.
The misconception about nutrition and eating is similar to the reproductive problem. Humans do have built-in mechanisms to limit over-eating, and these mechanisms work under natural conditions. But if you feed your humans an inappropriate diet, especially one low in fat, they will attempt to compensate by over-eating. Beware of commercially prepared human foods, like Purina Human Chow. While such foods boast a "well-balanced diet" and they may contain all the vitamins, minerals and calories your human could desire, many are grossly deficient in fat content and especially lacking in the essential fatty acids without which humans cannot live.
If your humans are harvesting their own food from the habitat, chances are they will be fit and trim.
Other causes of over-eating are as follows: anxiety, boredom and sexual frustration. But again, if you have provided your humans with the right habitat, these problems will never come up!
Art, Science, Math
I have heard some complain that their humans do not achieve the results that are expected of them. Aren't humans supposed to be capable of erecting pyramids, creating beautiful art, solving difficult mathematical problems? Why, they ask, can't my human do any of these things?
The answer is similar to the language problem. While most humans are capable of learning language, it is very difficult to find one who can invent a language all by himself, without ever having experienced language. Many humans can use implements, but it is a rare human who can invent one. Talents and abilities among humans vary immensely. The collective achievements of the human species are due to the innovations of only a few unusual individuals.
To properly appreciate the human you have been given, forget about the achievements of all humanity and concentrate on what your particular human can do.
Humans are among the brightest creatures you will ever meet. They make delightful companions and can gives hours of pleasure and enjoyment. If you understand their strengths and limitations, then the experience of keeping humans can be very positive and enriching.
(c) 2009 Aya Katz
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