as Evolutionary Catalysts
live in a time of unprecedented problems, some people say.
Dwindling resources, energy shortages, the risks associated
with new technologies, economic crisis, military & religious
conflicts, environmental degradation and climate change. All
threats that could doom us, they say... but it doesn't work
Sure, we have some pretty big challenges ahead of us. But
this is not the first time. Throughout the our history and
prehistory, in fact throughout the entire history of life
on this planet, we and our predecessors have been facing big
threats, such as changing conditions and environments. Scientists
now know that our ancestors were exposed to repeated changes
in their environments.
We have been walking down this path many times before.
these past changes often generated new threats and challenges
we didn't know beforehand how to solve. Although some branches
on our evolutionary tree indeed got extinct - as always is
the case with evolution when you can't adopt to a new situation
- we survived. Somehow, we managed to use our brains, imagination
and ingenuity to find new solutions, create new tools and
new ways forward. Simply because we had to!
not only that. Today it stands clear that we owe these different
threats, problems, challenges our very existence. In fact,
we wouldn't have been where we are today, without them.
have long known that changes have caused primitive life forms
to evolve. If you have a calm pond of water staying as it
is for millions of years, not much is going to happen there.
But if the water suddenly dries out, or if it's flooded, it
may force species to try move somewhere else, or adopt to
the changing situation. Change or you die. Some made it, some
some scientists started to look at our early primate ancestors,
they found an even more striking evidence of this. The size
of their skulls, and consequently also the size of their brains,
actually grew faster than average at those times when we have
records of changes in the climate. Every time their climate
changed, and therefore also their living conditions, they
since large, complex brains can process and store a lot of
information, this was also useful to the early humans when
solving other tasks and challenges, such as moving to new
locations, learning about the changing phases of nature, or
in their social interactions and the building of growingly
complex societies. Over the course of human evolution, our
brain size has tripled...
threats and problems have been catalysts for change, challenges
forcing us to think harder, invent new tools and adopt to
new situations, thereby triggering the advancements which
have driven our evolution forward. At the time they happened,
they were of course met by deep fear, uncertainty or desperation,
just as with our current problems. But in the light of history,
it often lead to something good: we grew up a bit...