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Sid Tafler

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Which attribute most makes humans different than all other life forms on earth?

Humans are the dominant species on earth. Or to put it more humbly, perhaps we are the species that has more impact on the planet, good and bad, than any other.
So which single attribute had made us more fundamentally different from all others over the last few hundred thousand years?
Is it our ability to make and control fire? Our legendary opposable thumbs? Our ability to communicate? Our social connections with other humans, or our spiritual explorations? Or some other factor?
Perhaps in your response you will demonstrate the attribute you chose by example.


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  • Apr 6 2012: In youtube.com, there are some wonderful videos about dolphin intelligence. Some of those videos make it clear that dolphins have serious language capacities. And they recognize themselves in mirrors. And have names for themselves. The videos explain that humans, dolphins, great apes, and elephants are, so far as we know, the most intelligent species on our planet. It seems these fellow creatures also have a moral sense, for instance.

    Of course, we really should not be killing any of those creatures. It's obscene.

    I would think, Sid, that it isn't so much that there is one attribute that we have that noneof the other creatures have, so much as a collection of attributes. For instance, we aren't the only critters with an opposable thumb and finger. And we don't have the largest brains on the planet. And we aren't the only ones who can reason. And we aren't the only ones who have language. And we aren't the only social animals. On and on.

    But we are obviously the only creature that, perhaps partly because of all these attributes, has evolved to the unparalled state of our technology, our collective culture, and our sophisticated language. I think it's probably a matter of a combination of factors rather than a single attribute that best exemplifies our difference from other life forms.

    And, even still, it's beneficial to see ourselves not as infinitely removed from the other creatures but in profound relation in almost every way.
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      Apr 6 2012: You make some very good points, Jim.
      We are part of the biological realm and certainly can't claim superiority over other life forms.
      I guess the way we are different is in the things we make. Other animals make
      elaborate nests and use tools, but we make things that are complex, technological
      and composed of components, other things we have made.
      Perhaps the most important thing we ever made was fire, it led us along the
      evolutionary path to where we are now, and that ability to light and control
      fire is unique to our species.

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