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What is primitive?

I am often offended by human exceptionalism, and I find our research into primates and proto-humans to be rife with this type of arrogance. It's not that were aren't biologically special - we are - it's just that we're not the only ones. Evolution doesn't play favorites like that, and if we really want to understand ourselves, I think it would serve us well to be more respectful of what the other beings sharing out planet have to contribute.

I read an amazing article in NatGeo about this woman, Jill Pruetz, who's done extensive research in a chimp community in I don't remember where [Senegal]. Among the things she's observed, the female chimps in this community have developed spears to hunt bush babies for food.

Though scientists are often unwilling to speculate, here's where I go with this: it was probably human females who used tools for hunting, not because hunting is evidence of particularly violent or gender-specific tendencies, but because females were less likely to have enough food. Innovation comes from necessity. The dominant males don't need to (or, maybe can't) because they're the ones that collect the wealth from their community. Sounds familiar.

Our arrogance about our relative superiority even extends to our own ancestors. It's never an attitude that they are just like us, but operating within different environmental and physiological parameters, but that they're "primitive." *Sigh*

This attitude is, helpfully, undermined by discoveries like the two recent ones about Neanderthals - not only did our genetically similar but distant relatives look kind of like us, they also acted just like us! They used the tools they had available to adorn and beautify themselves, just like we do today.

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