After watching a BBC documentary about wild silver foxes that were bred for "tameness" and subsequently started exhibiting the entire suite of changes associated with domesticated dogs (raised tails, various hair types/colors, submissiveness, etc.) I began thinking about whether or not this process happened in humans.
Evolutionary biology, anthropology, etc. all seem to agree that the great "advances" of human society were the result of greater cooperation. Language, pair bonds, religion, the written word, all allowed us to "work together", but what if this simply means that we have "tamed" ourselves?
As in the case of the silver fox, many uniquely "human" traits may be the result of selecting for tameness.
For example, when comparing infant apes to infant humans, they both show striking similarity. What we then see in the adult ape (a Capuchin monkey in the picture) is a maturation into an adult form that is truncated in human beings.
If this is indeed the case (and it seems very likely) many other developments such as the use of other animals skins/pelts, weapons, etc. could be compensatory for our own loss of innate weaponry (i.e. canine teeth).
Paleontologist and writer Stephen Jay Gould has said that the "evolutionary story" of humans is based on "retaining to adulthood the originally juvenile features of our ancestors."
What are your thoughts?
(If you are interested, I delved a little deeper into this idea in a blog post titled "The Domestication of Man")