The human unique is a term used to describe the characteristics that make humans different from other animals. These features include language, tools, culture and consciousness.
One of the most obvious ways that humans are different from other primates is our ability to reason and solve problems. This is because of our highly developed brain that allows us to think and reason efficiently.
Humans are the only species to have developed language
Among the many unique things about humans is that we’re the only species to have developed language. This has led to debates about how this ability arose, and what made us the only ones capable of it.
Linguists have tried to answer this question in a variety of ways. They’ve looked at the neural mechanisms involved, the evolution of our ancestors’ language skills, and the similarities between human languages and those of our closest ape relatives.
Some researchers have said that language arose in an evolutionary process called exaptation, where a certain feature of a group’s behavior becomes more evolved over time. This could be because natural selection favored traits that helped the human population survive.
Others argue that it arose in a process called evolvability, where the brain adapts to new abilities and situations. It’s this that allowed our brains to learn to make tools, and it’s also why we were able to develop a language in the first place.
Another view, supported by some linguistic anthropologists, is that protolanguage arose in a gestural way, based on gestures and pantomime. This would have predated speech by millions of years.
However, the argument that gestures preceded speech has a major flaw. While gestures can be used as a form of communication, they don’t have the same range of sounds as speech. For example, chimpanzees can produce more than 70 different gestures, but only 4 types of calls.
Despite this, gestures can be used as a way of predicting and supplementing the sounds in our voice. The two systems are thought to be connected by the regions of our brain that control hand and mouth movements.
This leads to a theory called the integration hypothesis. It suggests that language arose from the same sources as gestural communication, but that the speech system only emerged after other features of a hominin’s thinking, such as spatial abilities and social interaction, became more complex.
Regardless of which hypothesis is right, it’s clear that language has been a huge help to our species. It helps us communicate, it lets us understand each other, and it can even help us think about our world. We use it to plan hunting and defence, to build tools and weapons, and to plan and share our lives with one another.
Humans are the only species to have developed tools
One of the most unique features of humans is that we are the only species to have developed tools. Although tool use is found in many non-human animals, such as birds and dolphins, it has only been documented in a small number of taxa (around 1% of the animal genera currently known, and less than 5% of all species).
Despite this rarity, tool use has been regarded by some researchers as an evolutionary antecedent to human evolution, but this is not supported by any strong phylogenetic evidence. Instead, the behavioural origins of tool use are thought to be a combination of ecological drivers, general cognitive or morphological prerequisites and the role of social learning.
The earliest traces of tool technology are thought to have emerged in East Africa about 2.5 million years ago, when the first hominins, who were part of a group of apes called Australopithecus, began making stone tools. These artifacts were used for hunting, building fires, and constructing shelters.
This early period of stone tool technology was followed by the Middle Stone Age some 300,000 years ago. This was the time when humans started to develop more sophisticated tools, such as projectile points on spear shafts and blades on arrowheads, that greatly improved their hunting skills.
But the transition from clunky hand-held stone tools to refined Middle Stone Age implements wasn’t a linear process. Some fossils from Omo Kibish in Ethiopia, for example, look very modern at 195,000 years old, while others, like those found in Iwo Eleru Cave in Nigeria, appear more archaic.
It’s this discrepancy between fossils that has lead some scientists to suggest that the ancestors of modern humans didn’t evolve all their representative traits until later in history, about 5 million years ago. This is because some fossils show that humans migrated from Africa into other regions of the world, and so the species they resembled might have looked different in those different environments.
The problem with this theory is that there are many different fossils that resemble modern humans, some of which date back much further than 5 million years. These older fossils are sometimes referred to as “early Homo sapiens.” But they often don’t have all the features that modern humans do, such as large brains and thin skulls.
Humans are the only species to have developed culture
Culture is the set of social behaviors, institutions, norms, laws, customs and beliefs a group of people share. It involves a range of activities and abilities, including language, art, music, dance, food preparation and hunting techniques, and even how the people in a society communicate with each other.
Humans are unique among all living species in that we are the only known creatures to have developed culture. We are also the only species to have populated, adapted to and significantly altered many land regions throughout the world, creating profound environmental impacts and new survival challenges.
All species have gone through a process of evolution that changes their physical traits and behavior. This natural change is caused by a series of mutations in genes that result in new adaptations for living in specific environments.
For example, modern humans have larger brains than their ancestors and their faces have less of the heavy brow ridges and prognathism that are common in early humans. They also have lighter skeletons with smaller bones and teeth.
But there are still many differences between us and other mammals, birds and reptiles. For example, we have evolved to be social animals that prefer to live in family units rather than solitary. We have learned to adapt to different types of environmental conditions, and we have developed sophisticated tools that allow us to hunt and gather food.
Despite these differences, we are still very much related to our ancestors who lived long ago in Africa. We are members of the subtribe Hominina, along with chimpanzees and gorillas.
We are also part of the genus Homo, which includes several extinct species as well as modern humans. While scientists agree that human evolution has played a large role in the development of culture, they haven’t agreed on when or how it happened.
The oldest evidence of human cultural activity comes from Africa, where early humans first emerged on the scene around five million years ago. These early humans used a variety of tools to hunt and gather food, but they didn’t have the capacity to speak and build complex societies.
Humans are the only species to have developed consciousness
Consciousness is a unique human ability, unlike many other abilities that are common in other animals. It is also a relatively small part of the brain – much smaller than visual perception, for example. It has taken only tens of millions of years to develop and uses only a small portion of the cerebral cortex.
There is some evidence that the development of consciousness and volition in the human brain occurred at around the same time. This co-evolution was probably beneficial to both, allowing Homo sapiens to build a gigantic brain while still developing conceptual consciousness that allows us to think and make decisions.
One of the biggest challenges in understanding the origins of consciousness is whether it arose independently or was already present in some form before our species evolved. This is a “hard problem,” whose solution can help answer questions about the evolution of other conscious species, such as whether they had a similar mechanism to ours.
Another big challenge is to explain how the subjectivity and intentionality of conscious experience are possible without volitional control. If this is the case, then it is unlikely that consciousness evolved in one step, like our vision, unless it was able to benefit from the adaptive advantages that come with volitional movement.
For instance, a creature that has no way of judging whether its perceptions are accurate may be vulnerable to errors and ruts that could lead to a breakdown in the brain. This would be a very bad thing, since it would make the creature unable to adapt to changes in the environment or to respond to new information.
Alternatively, the subjectivity and intentionality of conscious experience may have been built into our brains by means of special anatomical and physiological properties. For example, a person who is experiencing a strong emotion might have an incredibly complex circuit in their brain that produces this sensation.
There is no single theory that is able to account for the entire range of features found in consciousness. However, a few theories can provide good explanations of a number of typical features of consciousness. These include a recursive character, seriality and limited resources, objectivity, the relationship between consciousness and explicit memory, and the feeling of conscious agency.