If gorillas became humans through meat-eating and cooking, wouldn't any animal have the potential to become "human" through this same process?

by -2 · March 21, 2014 at 12:21 PM

I'm hoping to make this topic a peaceful, interesting discussion.

So supposedly we came from apes or gorillas right? Well, to me, gorillas and apes don't appear to be any more special than a polar bear, a deer, a shark, etc.

Supposedly through eating animals larger than them, by taking this meat and cooking it, and through the cooking of other foods these gorillas became what we are today, humans, therefore wouldn't it make sense that any animal would have the capacity to do this and evolve into something more "advanced"? Why would apes have some sort of "magic" ability to do this, yet other animals stay the same, right?

What's interesting is animals who have already been eating meat, like lions, wolves, have been doing so since dawn of time and obviously aren't becoming any more "human" or "advanced", so maybe it's the cooking and the fire that does this? The cooking or fire, then, would have to be what did this, no? I can't see any other logical answer to this equation since there are already carnivorous species who do not walk upright yet.

Have I unlocked the secret, do I win a prize?

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568 · March 19, 2014 at 8:24 PM

You're really trying to scratch at the surface of a deep and complicated topic that you could spend 20 years of your life studying before truly understanding... "what made us turn into human".... I'll do my best to explain what little I know in as few paragraphs as possible.

TLDR: gorillas and humans share hands, tool use, and social networks. These things create vital selective pressures to higher brain development. Our nutrient dense diet just played the role of making everything possible (smaller guts and bigger brains)...

Eating meat and cooking food gave us a more nutrient/energy dense diet which allowed us to support bigger brains. The brain is an energy hungry organ, using about 20% of our total energy. Eating cooked and nutrient dense meats and tubers also allowed us to evolve smaller guts than most carnivores and MUCH smaller guts than herbivorous gorillas. Since the gut takes a lot of energy too, this smaller gut just lets us devote more energy to the brain/body (while eating less).

But having the energy available to operate such an energetically expensive organ isn't reason enough to evolve a huge brain. It's the hands, really, that did it. Along with some help from being such social creatures. So yes, gorillas have something special: digits and friends. Actually, it's tool use that did it (made possible through hands and friends). Gorillas are also one of the few animals observed using tools in their natural environment. The use of more and more creative and widely varied tools, conjured up from whatever was lying around our environment, required a lot of brain power. Today our world is filled with tools and THAT is what makes us human.

When you think about it: cars, computers, shoes/clothes, food packaging containers, refrigerators, and even houses are really just tools. So it's the tool use/creation, made possible by hands and culture, that drove half of our increase in brain power. The other half (okay it could be 20-80% responsible depending who you ask) is social groups and communication/culture. Culture/communication not only allowed us to teach one another to use/make tools, but motivated even more rapid brain development. The bigger your brain, the better you can converse, and the more likely you are to attract and keep a mate. I can sound pretty darn smart in a conversation and impress women. That's a good thing because I don't have a whole lot else going for me. Yay for big brains and tiny guts!

962 · March 19, 2014 at 7:03 PM

no prize. the process would be so long and gradual (if I look at gut reduction/brain swelling, we are talking several hundred thousands generations). In the intervening time there would be cross breeding and whatnot. Yes, any ape could have become human given enough opportunity, and Neanderthal (a species that was exterminated by humans, with some cross breeding) too.

0 · March 19, 2014 at 6:47 PM

I don't think you "become human". You just become what has survived, reproduced, and had offsprings who've done the same. Lions are pretty advanced predators. Solitary lion versus solitary male human who's been strength and conditioning training his whole life, my money is on lion killing the human in about 1/10 of a second. They're pretty efficient 1v1.

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