People in their seventies in the Western world have lived through unforeseen and nearly unimaginable changes and now text each other. So humans can be very adaptive indeed. Now this from human paleontology:
An unforgiving environmental twist deserves at least some credit for the behavioral flexibility that has characterized the human species since our African origins around 300,000 years ago, a new study suggests.
For hundreds of thousands of years in parts of East Africa, food and water supplies remained fairly stable. But new evidence shows that starting about 400,000 years ago, hominids and other ancient animals in the region faced a harsh environmental reckoning, says a team led by paleoanthropologist Rick Potts of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. …
Stone hand axes and other cutting tools made of local stone had dominated African toolkits for 700,000 years before that transition occurred. After that, Middle Stone Age tools, such as spearpoints made from rock imported from distant sources, gained popularity, Potts’ team has previously found (SN: 3/15/18). Middle Stone Age tools were smaller and more carefully crafted implements. Widely scattered hominid groups began to trade with one another to obtain suitable toolmaking rock and other resources.Bruce Bower, “How environmental changes may have helped make ancient humans more adaptable” at ScienceNews
Paper. (open access)
Okay but no other life form started trading in order to acquire “suitable toolmaking rock and other resources” because… ?
Hey, this is a good theory as to why people needed to branch out and develop more networks. But we’re overlooking a key issue here: Humans could only do that if something already differentiated us from hyenas… It wasn’t just the environment.
See also: Human evolution at your fingertips