Creature contacts

Humans shaped by contact with other animals

source Pat Shipman
New Scientist vol 210 no 2814 May 28 2011 starts p 32, 5 pages long

Human beings from different cultures have long had close contact with other animals. Other mammals do not care for different species. Tools used for cutting meat date from some 2.6 million years ago, and this marks a move from a vegetarian to a more carnivorous diet. Meat and fat helped with human brain development. Tools allowed humans to compete with other carnivores, as did understanding animals' minds. Humans sought new hunting grounds and spread from Africa to Eurasia. Prehistoric art shows that information on animals was exchanged. Language helped humans exchange information on the past and future.

The first animal to be domesticated was the dog, and this process may have begun around 32,000 years ago. Domestication of animals can provide benefits such as fur and wool, manure, and power for transport, and animals are also a source of mobile wealth. It allowed humans to colonise all areas, and involved deepening our understanding of animals.

The link between humans and animals has shaped humans in many ways, from becoming successful hunters, to developing language, to successful domestication. Understanding other animals is part of being human, and they have shaped the nature of humanity.