Casually Explained: Human Beings


Human beings are all members of the great ape family, and while they’re closely related to bonobos, chimps, gorillas, and orangutans, they remain one of the most distinct, being the only to exhibit permanent upright bipedal movement and little to no body hair or fur. One of their most unique characteristics is possessing one of the highest brain-to-body-mass ratios of not just the great apes, but nearly all large mammals. Included with this is their expanded cerebral cortex, which has led humans to be considered not only the most intelligent of all mammals, but generally of all animals on earth. Although it is important to keep in mind that this is a statistical average and certainly not the case in most individuals. In addition to their heightened intelligence which has brought about their complex use of communication through language, humans also possess one of the most precise capabilities for fine motor skills due to having opposable thumbs and an adapted muscular and nervous system more attuned to small movements. This does come at a cost, however, where if we look at other great apes, we see they don’t have the same fine motor control, but in exchange they’re all jacked out of their goddamn minds while only eating leaves which in my opinion is one of humanity’s worst evolutionary blunders. Regardless, humans still remain at the top of their respective food chains. A result not of their own physical formidability, but of their cunning and intellect that has allowed them to defeat other species through exploiting their weaknesses. As an example, while human tribes were ravaged by wolves tens of thousands of years ago, they eventually figured out that the heat and light of a fire would keep them at bay. Then as time moved on, they eventually used their superior intellect to tame the wolves until they could fit their quivering offspring into Gucci handbags and truly establish the dominance of humanity. But not only that, humans were able to fend off threats of other apex predators through similar means. They defeated large spiders by creating enclosed housing and protective footwear, they defeated sharks by just living on the land, and they defeated polar bears by driving fuel-inefficient cars. Humans are a diurnal species, which is the opposite of nocturnal. This means that during hours where there is no daylight, they go to sleep, and during hours where there is daylight they stay inside. During these waking hours, humans typically go to work in a hierarchically structure organization in return for currency that they can give to other humans in exchange for goods and services. Using this method, humans are able to quickly and efficiently meet their needs of day to day survival, freeing up enough time for them to do work in the first place. And by using their superior group intelligence and ability to compound the knowledge of successive generations, humans have adapted to live in nearly any environment by adapting the environment to themselves, so much so that they have collectively spent thousands of years building systems that have almost completely negated the struggles of tribal lifestyle— all their food can be found in one location, typically within a few kilometers of their home; they live in individually climatized dwellings; they move from place to place using high-speed mechanical transport; and even communication has been rendered immediate through technological advancements. And by eliminating struggle and tribulation from their day-to-day survival, this has led human beings to be the first and only species on the planet to have truly run out of things to do. And in an effort to cope with their lack of responsibilities that regard group survival, humans enjoy voluntarily going to the outside environment with other humans so they can pretend to do something. Or also spend their time by watching screens that display someone else who is also pretending to do something. With that said, one area that modern humans still commit a great deal of time and attention to is the pursuit and maintenance of sexual relationships, although mostly the pursuit. And one of the most interesting characteristics that separates human mating from other primates is an increased importance of female intersexual selection I mean that while in most species of primate, males compete with other males primarily to stop them from mating with females they like, in humans, males will compete with other males not to stop the other person for mating with a female they like, but instead to get females in general to like them. This typically doesn’t work, but they do end up impressing other dudes. And interesting and not entirely unrelated fact is that human males have one of the largest genital-size-to-body-mass ratio of all primates. Again, keep in mind that this is a statistical average, and not the case in most individuals. Humans are typically monogamous in nature which is largely due to their lifelong social structures and the extended maturation period of their offspring requiring additional parental support. In fact, unlike most mammals that reach maturity in a few years, most children are unable to fend for themselves until they’re quite old, and typically can’t function independently for anywhere between 12 and 80 years. And with such a long lifespan, the unique difficulty for humans comes not at the time of their ultimate death, but at the point they realize that while they still have several years to live, they aren’t adding value to their society, but are a burden on it instead. For most people this realization typically occurs around the age of 18. Human societies themselves are generally segregated into large territories of land under singular leadership or government, then further broken down into smaller geographic regions or states, and then again into towns and cities in which all variety of the nation’s individuals live. Humans themselves are to some effect territorial and, like chimps, will not hesitate to tear another human limb from limb if they oppose upon their tribe and are perceived as an enemy. And, well, that makes you think, “Thankfully they have evolved to live not in tribes, but in modern civilizations where that type of behavior is frowned upon and has been mostly relegated to the comments section and incompetent drivers.” Ultimately, one of the most remarkable characteristics of human beings is that they’re one of the only creatures to have profound awareness of their own consciousness and are considered the only animal to be able to reflect deeply upon their own existence, although generally they avoid it. This allows humans to both diagnose their own shortcomings and to plan future goals that would bring them both happiness and fulfillment (again, hypothetically). And with this one of ever-gnawing questions unique to human existence is the ponderance of the meaning of their life in general, to which some of humanity’s greatest thinkers have spent their whole life trying to decipher, ironically. Reaching conclusions such as the existence of a theoretical afterlife, whether they exist solely to serve biological reproduction, whether the pursuit of meaning in life is its own goal, in the end while humans have seemingly solved the struggles of primitive survival, these existential questions will forever be up to each individual to solve for themselves until there’s an app for it. But for now, they can’t complain because at least it’s something to do.

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