While the discovery of particular gene functions is always interesting, we need to be extremely careful with our presuppositions. We love to imagine we humans are uniquely clever but the reality is that most humans are actually quite cognitively limited. Meanwhile several other species display characteristics that indicate significant intelligence. Corvids self-recognize, have theory of mind, and can solve multi-step problems. Octopus are turning out to be far more intellectually capable than anyone would have dreamed. Cetaceans likewise demonstrate complex intelligence. It's highly probable that evolution has resulted in different ways to solve similar problems - the classic convergent evolution paradigm. Thus we need to be mindful and avoid imagining that there are a few simple factors that differentiate us from our fellow creatures. As we learn more, we learn that we're not anywhere near as special aside from the fact a few clever people invented ways to pass knowledge down outside of pure show-and-learn or oral tradition. That is, in the end, all that distinguishes humans from other intelligent species.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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