How on Earth Did Humans Survive as a Species?
Sometimes I stay up at night wondering why we as a species are even still alive. If you think about it we had a lot of odds stacked against us from the very start. We tend to think that one of the features that makes us human is the ability to walk upright. Scientists have speculated for a while that this odd behavior came from the fact we were living on the savannahs and needed to see over the grass to spot predators. This is all well and good but what did we do once we saw those predators? Because of our awkward stance we couldn’t run fast at all. Not only could we not run we’re not particularly good climbers or swimmers and none of us can fly. We’d be easy pickings.
Then think of our babies! Our babies are the most useless little blobs of meat there are. Anyone who has ever seen a horse or a gazelle learn that these little guys can not only walk but run like the wind by the time they’re an hour old. All our babies can do at an hour old is emit a high pitched shriek calling all the baby eating beasts to come on home for dinner. And it doesn’t start with the baby it starts with pregnancy and childbirth itself. If you think a regular person runs slowly try watching a pregnant woman. They can almost be outrun by a tortoise. And childbirth is an ordeal in humans. Instead of a couple steady pushes and a glop of goo we get hours of intensive labor where the mother generally feels compelled to scream from the pain, and ripping out of her portal of life there will come this baby with an enormous head. Scientists say we as humans have much larger babies than other animals (in comparison to our own adult size) because we had to allow their giant baby brains to develop awhile before pushing them out.
Still a big brain isn’t everything. Our little infants can’t even hold their big brains up at birth and won’t grow the muscles to do so for a while to come. And this is supposing the child and mother come out of the birthing process alive. Only 90 years ago in the US as many as one in one hundred women died during childbirth. It was higher before the advent of hospitals and still remains high in countries where teenage girls are married off too young. What about the babies themselves? Well that death rate was even higher. In developing countries today the mortality rate in children under age of five can be as high as 50%. How then did we ever manage to populate the world with so many other human beings?
I mean if you think about it our babies really are useless. They cry at times when a lion could be cruising by and won’t stop. They have no ability to fend for themselves in any way shape or form, even unable to cling to their mother as she flees from the aforementioned lion. They’re a real drag! And you have to feed them, even through drought seasons and winters where finding food for yourself might be difficult. And the children take forever to grow up, being pretty nearly useless until they can start carrying things at age five or so. I just don’t know how any of us survived. Maybe it was fire. Maybe we all carried torches and hissed at the wolves surrounding us. I’m not one to say…
If you liked this articles you may also enjoy some others written by Theophanes: