I It is easy to forget that we are a single species within the genus Homo because all the others are dead. Currently it looks like Homo – a group of hominins that includes ancient beings such as Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis – is a family of seven, though that number is questionable. Regardless, Homo sapiens are the only living people, and the reason why is still a mystery. In a paper published Monday, scientists publish a new explanation: The reason our ancestors avoided extinction was because they were able to explore and adapt.
In Nature Human Behavior Patrick Roberts, Ph.D. and Brian Stewart, Ph.D. argue that humans have a "unique ecological plasticity" that our ancestors have an advantage over other hominins. In other words, Homo sapiens are and were very good at living in very different parts of the world. According to Roberts and Stewart, the ability to inhabit extremely diverse landscapes and the ability to learn the special skills necessary to thrive in these places means our species is adopting a new ecological niche ̵
Some researchers have linked the survival of our species with our ability to create or communicate, but Roberts, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Human History, points out Inverse that scientists increasingly also know the extinct hominins Like the Neanderthals, they were also able to express themselves culturally and to care for the community. These are signs that these specialized skills were not ours alone, so they can not be the only reason why we survived.
"So, we thought, why not turn to the grossest fact?" Says Roberts. "That our species is the only one that has populated the globe and all of its environments, the elephant seemed to be in the room, but somewhat neglected given the current focus on finding the latest fossil or eye-catching jewelry or art. Hominin map “/>
The team supports their argument with a review of past archaeological and paleoenvironmental research that focused on the spread of humans between 300,000 and 12,000 years ago. Roberts and Stewart argue that the fossil record as it stands now shows that anatomically modern humans have spread to higher niches between 80,000 and 50,000 years ago than their hominin predecessors and contemporaries. At least 45,000 years ago Homo sapiens populated a number of extremely challenging scenarios, including deserts, tropical rainforests, and paleo-arctic regions.
This does not mean that other members of the genus, such as Homo erectus and Homo floresiensis did not migrate far beyond Africa. But those old hominins stayed in an eco-comfort zone that was a mix of forest and grassland. So far, according to Roberts, we have only found fossil evidence for Homo sapiens in other environments, although "in some cases, like deserts, it is discussed how dry they were when the humans arrived there."  Map “/>
Nevertheless, much is to be done if this theory comes close to the mystery of ] Homo sapiens Survival. Shara Bailey, Ph.D., a paleoanthropology professor who was not part of this research, says she would be wary of saying where other hominins made their homes or not because the fossils were in some parts during the middle Pleistocene The world is sparse. Just because we have no evidence that sapiens was not a specialist occupying extreme environments does not mean that they could not have been.
Also, because ancient humans were extraordinary migratory movements, I believe that their ability to physically explore alone was the only factor that allowed them to travel. Melanie Chang, Ph.D., an anthropologist who was not part of the study, argues that "milestones", such as early art, show that ancient humans were culturally complex and behaviorally flexible, which likely helped them reach out to a broad spectrum to adapt to environments. In addition, according to Bailey, demographic changes in connection with the increase in population Homo sapiens have led to innovations that would have helped them conquer regions no one else wanted to go to.
Roberts and Stewart agree that their theory depends on the fossil record as it is, and the reason that the Pleistocene Homo sapiens could adapt to extreme regions was due to their ability to work with people outside their family.
Today, according to Roberts, we can still find evidence that we can thrive in extreme environments – just look at the current space race or the fact that "we're deeper into the oceans and higher in the sky than ever "are still" generalist specialists ", but there is still no statement on whether it keeps us from eradicating at some point.
"Surely it has allowed us to survive so far, though we should remember the sobering memory that we are even younger than Neanderthals and only lived 300,000 years [relatively limited in the context of human evolution]," explains Roberts. "So maybe we do not know if the" generalist specialist "is just a definitive success!"