Why did humanity fall short

12 theories of how we became humans and why they are all wrong

Man is a work of art! So far, everyone agrees. But what exactly lifts the homo sapiens from other animals, especially from monkeys, and when and how did our ancestors acquire that certain something? A wide variety of theories on this topic have emerged in the last century. However, some of them reveal more about the time in which they were set up than about human evolution.

1. We make tools: “It is the making of tools that makes us unique,” ​​wrote anthropologist Kenneth Oakley in an article in 1944. “Monkeys use found objects as tools,” he explains, “but shaping sticks and stones for specific purposes was the first recognizable human activity.” In the early 1960s, Louis Leakey wrote the beginning of toolmaking, and with it mankind , a species called Homo habilis ("Skillful man") who lived in East Africa around 2.8 million years ago. But researchers like Jane Goodall have now shown that chimpanzees also shape sticks for specific purposes, for example by removing the leaves to poke for insects in the ground. Even crows without hands are very skilled.

2. We are murderers: According to anthropologist Raymond Dart, our ancestors differed from monkeys in that they were known to be killers. Carnivorous creatures who "forcibly seized living victims, beat them to death, tore their destroyed bodies apart, removed limb by limb, quenched their cruel thirst with the warm blood of the victims and greedily devoured the raw flesh." It sounds like lurid junk literature, but after the terrible horrors of World War II, Dart's article on the "killer monkey" theory in 1953 was very well received.