3: The Homo Genus

Chapter Three
The Homo Genus

 

The last chapter was about the pan genus.  DNA evidence has shown that there is no doubt that they are our direct ancestors.  Our DNA is 98.8% the same as theirs.  That means that 1.2% is unique. 

This chapter is about that 1.2%. 

It explains how it came to be different and what this difference means for us.

 

Homos

 

Our genus is ‘homo.’ This term is variously defined with the term ‘hominid’ (for ‘upright walking’) or simply ‘man.’

Homo egaster is ‘the working hominid’ or ‘the working man.’ This name came from the large assortment of tools found around these people. 

Homo erectus is called ‘the upright hominid’ or ‘the upright man.’  This came from its posture, dramatically different and more upright than its pan ancestor.

Homo habilis is ‘the tool using hominid’ or ‘the tool using man.’ 

Homo neanderthalis and homo denisova are named after the sites where their remains were first identified.

Homo sapiens means ‘the intelligent hominid’ or ‘the intelligent man.’ Until very recently, it was thought that this was our species and we, modern humans, were the only members.  Now we know there were others.  We don’t know how many, at least not yet.  But there may be a lot.

The earliest known specimen of the genus Homo as of 2024 is classified as LD-350.  It was found in the Ledi-Geraru site in the Afar Region of Ethiopia 29 January 2013.  It has not yet been assigned to a species as of this writing.  It has been dated to between 2.75 and 2.8 million years ago.  (We don’t get precise dates going this far back, we can only get ranges, at least at this time.)  All remains older than 1.85 million years old are found in Africa.  This provides pretty convincing evidence that the genus originated in Africa.  For 1.85 million years, this was the only place these beings lived. 

The oldest remains found outside of Africa that have been dated so far are those of the Dmanisi hominins, found in Dmanisi, Georgiahom a site between the Black Sea and Caspian, in central Asia, dated to between 1.77 and 1.85 million years before the present (BP). 

After that, we find an ever increasing number of sites all over Africa, Asia, Europe, Indonesia, and Australia that take us to modern times. 

The main difference between the pans and homos is brain size.  This is the defining feature of our genus.  The brain cavities of the earliest adult homos are about twice the size as the brain cavities of adult pans.  The brain cavities of adult modern humans are about three times the size of those of adult pans. 

I think it is important to try to get some idea how this particular change happened, so we can trace important events that led to our current world.  There seems to be a very obvious explanation for the massive increase in mental processing ability, which occurred between 3 million years before the present and 2 million years before the present.  The very intelligent animals got a new toy.  Actually, a tool.  It is a very complicated tool but it was very fun to play with and very useful.  They worked hard to master it.  They couldn’t understand it with the smaller brains and smaller numbers of connections in the pan brain.  So, over the course of a million years, their competition for resources and, of course, the stresses of war (for the pans who had territorial sovereignty societies), selected individuals for survival who had greater intellectual capability than the average, while leaving the average with less than the optimal amount of food and resources.  This caused a dramatic and incredibly rapid (by evolutionary standards) change in one important variable, the thinking ability of these beings. 

The growth in intellectual capability was so profound that, after a million years, the beings that had the use of this new toy/tool were basically a new genus, totally unlike the their ancestors of a million years before and totally unlike the pans that still existed back in the high country of Africa. 

They were not ‘pans’ anymore. 

They were ‘homos.’

What was this new toy/tool that caused such dramatic change?

 

Fire

 

Fire is mesmerizing.  I have sat and watched wood fires for hours, staring into the flames.  It has many uses.  I cook with it, heat my house with it and, when the electricity goes out I have candles I can light to see my way around.  Gasoline engines use controlled fire, setting gas air mixture ablaze in conditions that lead to a rapid burn called an ‘explosion,’ which is then repeated over and over, thousands of times each minute the engine runs.  Jet engines use fire, as do rocket engines.  Guns ignite a highly flammable powder to create an explosion that drives a bullet.  Armor piercing uranium bullets explode and burn on impact in a way that melts steel and turns it into a liquid.  The bullet still is traveling at this point and it cuts through inches of solid steel like butter, exploding again when it reaches the air on the other side to kill everyone inside of the armored vehicle. 

Fire is very complicated.  It takes different skills and different mental connections to figure out each of the uses.  It is very dangerous, of course, and can kill you quickly if you make a mistake.  To use fire effectively and safely, you need to be pretty intelligent.  If you are stupid and you take risks with fire, you will not live very long.  If you are smart and use fire well, you have incredible advantages over beings that are otherwise the same as you, but don’t use fire.  They are primitive beings compared to you. 

The transitions from ‘primates that don’t use fire’ to ‘primates that do use fire’ is a critical one in the human experience.  I really couldn’t find any scientific analysis, even speculative analysis, that showed how this key event took place, but if you understand a little bit about the geography of Africa and the way that oil fields catch fire if not guarded by humans to prevent this, you can get a pretty good idea how it is likely to have happened.  The more I look at the events described below, the more obvious it appears.  The acquisition of fire may have happened differently than described below.  But, if it did, the differences are minor and inconsequential in that they don’t really impact the big picture. 

We know this transition happened.  There was a time when the highest beings on Earth—the pans—did not use fire.  There then came a time when the highest beings—the much smarter members of the homo genus—used fire for lighting, heating their homes, cooking, and fabricating and annealing parts for their tools.  This transition happened.  This is true.  I think it helps understand the profound differences between members of the homo genus and members of the pan genus, and important realities of modern human societies, if we can at least get a mental picture of the way this happened. 

 

Unity

 

First let’s set the scene:

The Nile river begins in the mountains of Tropical Africa.  The clouds hold millions of tons of water in vapor form.  When they hit the Rwenzori mountains, they are driven up into a cooler part of the atmosphere, causing the moisture to fall out of the clouds as rain.  The rain flows together as rivers that fill massive valleys, which become lakes.  The lakes overflow to form new rivers that flow into other lakes.  Then, the water has nowhere to go but down.  It starts to flow down the rugged mountains into the foothills below.  It collects, at the base of the hills, into the ‘White Nile.’ As the land levels out, it becomes a lazy river.  The low land doesn’t drive the clouds up to cause rain in these areas, so the land becomes drier and drier.  At a certain point, the land turns bone dry and there is no plant growth at all.  The river now enters the Sahara desert, where it provides a ribbon of life that extends more than 2,000 miles all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. 

If you followed the river down to just before the green disappears and you enter the desert, you would find an oil field called the ‘Unity Field.’ It is truly massive, with underground reserves of 3.5 billion barrels of oil.  This oil is under fantastic pressure.  When oil companies come to this area and drill holes, the oil gushes up to the surface and from there into the sky.  This oil has been there for millions of years.  It was there when the homo genus evolved and was there millions of years before homos when the pan genus evolved. 

The pressure is so great that the oil finds its way to the surface in places, even today.  Once it gets to the surface, it forms pools, with the lighter and more flammable hydrocarbons rising to the top of the pools.  If you went there on a hot day, you would see a shimmer in the air from the evaporating fuel.  (You don’t have to go to Africa to see this.  Any gasoline filling station that does not have vapor recovery systems on its nozzles will have this vapor simmering up from the pump on hot days.) The highly flammable vapor is mixing with air.  With the slightest spark, it will explode.  Once ignited, it will keep burning until the fuel is gone.

This happens from time to time even today.  But today oil companies come in and do everything they can to prevent it.  The oil is worth about $100 per barrel.  Every barrel that burns is a barrel they can’t sell.  When oil comes to the surface in pools, they pump it off as quickly as they can.  This reduces the risk of fire because the pools are the most likely part of the oil field to catch.  They then drill holes to release the pressure and pump off the oil that comes out to sell it.  With reduced pressure, less oil flows to the surface and it is easier for the oil companies to deal with.  Fire still break out from time to time.  But when this happens, the oil companies put them out as quickly as they can. 

Before humans, the pools were scattered all around the area near the current Unity Field.  Some were large, but most were small. 

This particular area is on the border between two climate systems.  The rains come in thick during certain times of the year.  Plants grow very rapidly.  Then there is no rain at all for months.  The plants all dry and become tinder for the fire.  Dry electrical storms are common in this area.  The lighting ignites the brush and the fires spread like, well, wildfire.  Now, the oil workers protect their fields from these seasonal fires.  But human oil workers weren’t here 3 million years ago.  The fires made it to the oil pools and ignited them.  The smaller pools would not burn very hot and could be blown out by the right wind or doused by a heavy rain.  But the big pools burned fantastically hot.  Wind could not put them out and rain only caused the fire to spread. 

The pans took the very best lands, the ‘Garden of Eden’ areas in the highlands of the mountains, first.  The chimps settled there with the societies discussed in the last chapter, with borders and the equivalent of chimp ‘countries’ dividing the best land.  The bonobos were driven away into less desirable land.  But even as far down river as Unity, the land immediately beside the Nile is productive enough to be monopolizable and can support the territorial sovereignty societies of the chimps.  Within a few million years after they first evolved, both chimps and bonobos would have lived in the lands around the oil fields. 

They saw the fires from the burning oil pools. 

The members of the pan species are very intelligent.  The only species more intelligent is our own.  Other than humans, no other animal can use tools better or make better use of the things they see around them.  There are uses for fire, even if you don’t know how to make it or move it from place to place.  Fire provides light.  Pans, like humans, have poor night vision.  Their predators have excellent night vision Those in the dark will helpless against attack.  Simply camping near a fire (in this case, one that is already burning) means a great deal more safety.  To the chimps who had carved out the best riverfront land for themselves, it provided greater benefits.  They could see their enemies coming and organize to fight them.  They couldn’t be attacked by surprise, at least not as easily, if they had even a tiny bit of light. 

As they spent more time around fire, they became more and more comfortable around it.  Fire is mesmerizing.  I like to watch it and think about how it moves and dances around the fuel.  I start to see patterns.  I don’t try to apply any logic or reason to it, I simply watch.  Eventually, I can start to see where the flames will dance off to next. 

Primatologist Jill Pruetz at Iowa State University in Ames studies the way that pans interact with fire.  When dry seasons come to parts of Africa, wildfires burn everywhere.  Preuetz notes that the chimps appear to be far more comfortable around the fires than humans.  They have to live with them several months out of the year.  They know that if they take certain precautions, they will be safe so they don’t panic like other animals, including humans.  Here she describes it in an interview with LiveScience.com: 

 

"It was the end of the dry season, so the fires burn so hot and burn up trees really fast, and they were so calm about it," Pruetz said of the chimps.  "They were a lot better than I was, that's for sure."

For the most part, wild animals consider fire very distressing, but the chimpanzees showed no sign of stress or fear with the wildfires, other than calmly avoiding the fire as it approached them.

"I was surprised at how expert they were at handling the fire," Pruetz told LiveScience.  "The fire was burning really hot, and the flames were at least 10 feet high, up to 20 feet at times."

The apes were experts at predicting where the fire would go, Pruetz noted.  "I could predict it, sort of, but if it were just me, I would have left," she said.  "At one time, I actually had to push through them because I could feel the heat from the fire that was on the side of me and I just wasn't that comfortable with it."

 

Most likely, one of the first intentional acts of fire control involved moving fire from one place to another.  Large pools of oil burn very hot and produce massive amounts of smoke.  Smaller fires will be much better.  If the oil pool is very small, it is actually very pleasant to watch the flame dance across it.  Since only the most volatile hydrocarbons are able to burn at these relatively low temperatures, there is no smoke, a lot of light, and just enough heat to be pleasant.  There will be a lot more small pools of oil than large ones in the natural field.  But the small ones won’t be able to remain on fire perpetually.  They will go out when the wind blows or after a heavy rain. 

The pans watching the big fires would see smaller pools.  They had seen the smaller pools burning before, but they are not on fire at that time.  But they see that a stick gets into a pool of fire and catches fire itself.  Then the stick may fall out of the fire pool of oil, but keep burning.  They would have seen wood burning many times.  they would have stared at fire as humans do and watched it.  They would have seen embers falling to small pools and igniting the small pools.  They would know, from their experience dealing with wild fires in the forests (as described in the text box above) that they can safely move a burning branch out of the way if they stay far enough from the flames.  It may take a long time but, eventually, one of them will take the burning stick and move it to the smaller pool, to create a fire the right size. 

Others will see this.  Pans are copycats.  They copy the things others do.  They don’t have to have schools where they are taught how to safely move fire to copy another pan that has done it. 

But every pan has unique DNA.  Some are smarter than others.  Eventually, one will be born that has mental connections that allow her to safely carry a burning stick from one burning pool to another.  She will have invented one of the simplest fire-using tools, a torch.  Mothers are driven by instinct to protect their children.  Nothing drives them harder.  A torch can allow a mother to protect her children from predators.  They will live while the children of mothers without torches will become food for the predators.  She will pass on her intellect, along with the skills themselves (which they can learn by copying their mother) to her children. 

Those without the necessary connections will have enormous disadvantages in the world of fire.  Those with them will have enormous advantages.  This will supercharge the evolutionary process.  The greater the benefits of an evolutionary difference, the faster it will happen.  It is hard to explain the doubling of brain size in a mere 1 million years without incredible pressure and great advantages for the animals that had greater intellect.  But the use of fire seems to be in this category.  It has so many uses that, even now, some 3 million years into the fire age, we haven’t figured them all out yet.  Each new use for fire requires new mental connections. 

 

Nuclear reactions are a kind of controlled fire.  Do you have the mental connections needed to understand how to build a nuclear bomb? A tiny percentage of the people on Earth even have minds capable of understanding the idea behind the complex mathematics needed for this. 

 

The power that comes from higher intelligence, in this situation, is fantastic.  A little bit more intellect means you are a little better at using this tool.  Those with this greater intellect survive while those that aren’t good at using this tool perish.

This becomes particularly clear when we understand that many of the pans live in systems that are built around territorial sovereignty.  If they can defeat the primates on the other side of the borders, they gain sovereignty over its territory.  They have the right to take anything it produces forever, and use it any way they want.  Fire is very useful in war.  Armies that have it can fight at night against helpless enemies.  They can throw balls of burning tar using slings, burning their enemies to death.  (This is still done, in a slightly more sophisticated way; the devices we call ‘napalm bombs’ are essentially balls of burning gelatinized oil). 

The use of fire changed them in many ways.  It expanded their mental capabilities a great deal.  It takes a lot of intelligence to use fire effectively and safely.  We know that in very young children, the parts of the brain that process this information are not yet fully developed.  Young human children will try to touch burning objects and, if not stopped, can be badly hurt.  The parts of their brains that have a cognitive understanding of the dangers of fire are not fully developed.  The pans living close to the oil fields developed these brain components over time.  Those with them had advantages over those without them.  They were more likely to survive long enough to have young and then raise them to be adults.  Over time, the better-adapted chimps would be more likely to pass on their genes.  The adaptations would build on one another.  Eventually, the chimps would be so different than any of the original chimps that an objective observer would probably not want to use the same name to refer to them. 

They would no longer be pans.  They would be a new genus, our genus, the homo genus. 

 

Out of Africa

 

Let’s look at Africa again. 

 

qqq Africa photo

 

If you look closely at the picture, you will see that the green area in the center is essentially boxed in.  It is blocked on all sides and there is no real way to get from there to the outside world.  On the north is the hot and arid Sahara.  On the other three sides are oceans. 

If you look very close, however, you will see a tiny ribbon of green that moves up from the green area and cuts through the great desert.  It is tiny because you are looking at it from 2,500 miles up.  This will be the route our ancient ancestors took when they leave Africa.  It is the Nile river. 

This the only way out.  it is the way our ancestors went when they left Africa about 2 million years ago. 

There were different groups of homos that left Africa.  They are:

1.  Homo egaster (the worker man)

2.  Homo habilis (the capable man). 

These two groups are claimed to be different species, in the same way that chimps and bonobos are claimed to be different species, and for the same reasons.  I think that this is likely to be wrong and will eventually be found to be wrong and it will eventually be shown that they are the same species. 

A definitive test would require DNA.  We don’t have DNA of sufficient quantity from either homo egaster or homo habilis to determine their genetic relationship either to each other or to species that followed that have been claimed to be separate species (like neanderthals and denisovans) but may not be. 

 

In most places, DNA useful for dating has a ‘half life’ of about 500 years.  This basically means that if the specimen is 500 years old, you are only half as likely to get enough DNA to sequence as if the specimen was fresh.  If you go back 1000 years, you are only a fourth as likely.  If you go back 5,000 years, the odds fall to 0.1% as likely and, after that, the likelihood falls pretty quickly to the point where it is not much different than zero.  That doesn’t mean we never get enough DNA from old specimens to sequence them, it just means that it is very unlikely.  Specimens of homo egaster and homo habilis we have are few in number and those we have are extremely old.  The odds haven’t been in our favor, so we don’t have it. 

 

For the time being, I want to use the term ‘groups of the homo genus’ to refer to homo egaster and homo habilis, and their descendants the denisovans and neanderthals, because the truth is we don’t know their species.  They may be different species and may simply be different members of the same species who happened to live dramatically differently, like the chimp and bonobo. 

I think you can see what is coming:

 

Two Different Societies Leave Africa

 

One of these two groups, the homo egaster, left artifacts that indicate that its members were clearly migratory.  We don’t find artifacts of homo egaster or their descendants the denisovans in fixed and well built homes, or in communities with roads and public facilities.  They are not found in desirable areas like fertile river valleys, which could be colonized and turned into ‘countries.’ They traveled in small groups and most of the evidence we have from then indicates they were clearly not ‘living’ in the places where they left artifacts, they were just traveling through. 

They lived in the wild open spaces.  They probably were hunter gatherers, and traveled very long distances following game they were hunting.  Homo egaster are the ancestors of the denisovans, who followed the same lifestyles and who left artifacts in many of the same places.  The denisovans are the ancestors of the modern nomads of Mongolia and Siberia, many of whom live the same general lifestyle, living in portable homes called ‘yurts’ and traveling by dogsled or, if they can afford them, snowmobiles. 

In the places where homo egaster lived, it wouldn’t have been possible to form and defend a specific part of the world as a ‘country.’ For this to happen, they would need a piece of land that is monopolizable.  It must be practical for the people living on the land to build borders and defend them, and the land must produce enough to support them without them having to leave it undefended.  The places where homo egaster lived clearly do not qualify. 

They were like the bonobos, both in terms of disposition and culture.  Of course, they probably would have liked to live in the best areas, where food and everything else they need is plentiful.  But, for some reason, they shunned these areas and stayed in remote areas. 

Homo habilis lived entirely differently.  They formed colonies as they went and built permanent facilities, including very large and durable walls to surround the areas where they lived.  We can study their former habitations because many were built along the banks of the Nile where it flows through the dry Sahara.  It doesn’t rain in many of these areas for centuries, so the dwellings don’t degrade very rapidly.  Their artifacts show they clearly ‘settled’ the areas where they lived.  They stayed there.  They had homes where they slept every night.  They clearly had military forces patrolling the walls: we can find evidence of defensive fortifications that allowed them to rain down fire on their enemies while remaining safe themselves.  They clearly had societies like the chimps, built in the same principle: territorial sovereignty.  The homo habilis divided into groups, each of which took possession of a territory, then treated it as if they had sovereignty over it.  They acted much like the people of the world’s countries do today. 

The homo habilis were the ancestors of the people called the neanderthals.  Neanderthal remains are found in great quantities in Europe.  The neanderthals built the many thousands of city states of ancient Europe.  When later technology made it impossible to defend a small state, larger entities closer to modern countries evolved and many of the smaller ‘city states’ (a state the size of a modern city) were abandoned.  You can find the ruins of their old city walls today, all over Europe.  There are so many of them, that most even aren’t marked and used as tourist attractions today.  They are just left to be destroyed by the weather. 

Both of these early groups of the homo genus left Africa starting about 2 million years ago.  The homo egaster (sometimes called ‘homo erectus,’ although there is no agreement on whether they are the same species) went first.  They were migratory people descended from migratory people.  The homo habilis, with their fixed homes and city states then followed. 

These people had large brains.  They were more than twice as large as those of the pans who were their ancestors.  They used fire for light, heating, cooking, and to help them in the manufacture of their tools.  Since the areas where they went didn’t have naturally burning oil fields, they clearly had figured out how to make fire.  They brought the items needed to make fire with them, wherever they went. 

 

How to make fire: This is easy if you have some light oil, a flint, and a piece of metal that contains iron.  This is how a ‘Zippo’ lighter works: the reservoir has very light oil (‘lighter fluid’ is a very light oil).  This oil is soaked up by a wick.  The wick is placed right next to a tiny piece of flint which is pushed up into a metal wheel by a tiny spring.  The metal wheel is made of steel, which has a high iron content.  Spin the wheel and it scrapes the flint creating a spark which lights the oil-soaked wick.  (The wick itself doesn’t burn and can last for decades; it only holds the oil.) If you don’t have fossil-fuel oil, you can use natural oil from animal fat or extracted from oil-rich plants.
       Early homos could have figured out that the oil was the key part.  Oil and a wick (which can be made of anything) and a spark.  The hard part is actually the iron containing metal, needed to generate a large spark from a flint.  If you know the trick, however, you can find them: there is a certain color of red mixed with orange that indicates a high iron content in a rock.  Look for it and keep trying, striking the rocks together until you get a tiny spark.  (This will happen when you find one with an iron content of about 60% or higher).  Then, once you have the iron rock as a striker, you test it against other rocks.  Each one will give a different level of spark.  Striking flint against the iron rock will give you the best spark.
       The American ‘Indians’ used this method to make fire.  For this reason, they placed great value on iron and one of the most valuable trade goods available to early explorers was simple nails.  (The explored Captain Cook descries the elaborate lengths to which the natives he met would go to get even a single nail.  He didn’t seem to understand why a nail was worth more than a pile of silver or gold.  The higher the iron content, the greater the spark.  His nails were almost 100% iron.)
       Cook traveled extensively and was the first person from Europe to have contact with the people of several hundred islands.  They were all different in many ways, but they all shared one trait: they all used fire.  Cooke noted that the poorest of the people he met had no clothes, blankets, or other comforts, but they would never go anywhere without their fire making kits: 

 

How territorial sovereignty societies Spread

 

Homo habilis, and their descendants the neanderthals, had societies built on the idea of dividing themselves into different teams to fight over exclusivity (sovereignty) over pieces of territory.  These are the same kinds of societies chimps have and the same kinds of societies that dominate the world now. 

These societies spread in a very specific way.  If we want to understand how they developed into the societies we have now, it helps to understand how these systems expand. 

They can start with a few people (or animals; territorial sovereignty societies are suitable for both) in a small area, but spread until they cover immense areas.  These societies spread by the process of ‘colonization.’ When the individuals in a group that has taken control of a territory can no longer support their population on that territory, they find some other territory that will allow them to basically transport a new version of their system to that territory. 

They have a system that requires defendable borders.  Homos are a lot better at fortifying borders than chimps.  They build durable barriers that are very high (many of the border walls in the world are more than 100 feet high, and incredibly well fortified).  These borders can’t be moved so the territory of each of these units is more or less fixed.  If the population grows, the territory can’t grow.  The territory gets more and more crowded expand with ever increasing stress on resources.  Eventually, if additional territory exists, they will send out ‘colonists’ to find it and basically create a new version of their system into that colony. 

If no unoccupied territory that is suitable is available, they will have to try to take over occupied territory.  If the others in the territory are passive and pacifistic, unwilling to fight (as the bonobos were in the chimp/bonobo conflicts), the more aggressive colonists can often drive them away.  If there is no place to move them to, they can simply wipe them, out. 

 

In the book ‘A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies,’ Las Casas tells how Columbus colonized the formerly densely populated island of Haiti.  The ‘Indian’ population when Las Casas he arrived in 1509 was over 3 million.  Twenty years later it was down to 100 and, by the time he wrote the book in 1542 it was zero.

 

If the all land that is unoocupied and all land occupied by people with pacifist societies has been colonized, the only way to get more territory will be to make war against another occupied area (‘country’) and take it from them.  but this time is not going to come for the homo habilis and their descendants for another 3 million years.  When they first left Africa, there was plenty of land everywhere. 

 

Where They Spread

 

The map below indicates the paths of migration of the more aggressive early members of the homo genus, including homo erectus and neanderthals. 

They came from central Africa.  They went up the Nile.  From there, they spread along the Mediterranean shore.  Some went east to the area now called the ‘Middle east.’ They found the fertile and productive valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates.  They built colonies in these areas.  They continued west along the northern part of the Mediterranean, to modern Greece.  (The inland areas along the Mediterranean east of Greece were not really suitable for colonization without modern technology, because it doesn’t rain enough in these areas to support crops.) From Greece, they spread into what is now western Europe.  The land they found is rich and productive and the homo erectus and neanderthals flourished there. 

The great bulk of the land of western Europe is productive enough to support permanent hominid settlers.  They can plant grains and grow them in the summer.  They can store the grains and grind them into flour, to have bread in the winter.  They can domesticate and feed chickens, ducks, geese, pigs, goats, sheep, oxen, and other animals.  They can have eggs, milk, cheese and butter.  They can live very well. 

Since they live well, their population will grow.  At some point, they will need more land.  The people with the other culture, the homo egaster and denisovans (discussed below) will already be there.  These are migratory people however and have neither the desire nor the ability to fight in a way that might allow them to win against the ones who need the land for their colonies.  At first, the occupied territories will have space between them.  But this space will fill in.  Eventually, the occupied territories, which we may now call ‘states’ or ‘countries,’ will be against each other, with the borders of one the same as the borders of the next.  (This is the way these ‘countries’ are today.) As long as food is plentiful, however, and they have no effective birth control, the population will grow.  Stress will build.  The people who have important positions in each country will look for weaknesses in the defenses of their neighbors.  When they find them, they will attack. 

Their system will work the same basic way as the system of the chimpanzees, with one exception: They will have far better weapons.  The carnage will be far greater than takes place in chimp societies. 

 

Neanderthals, denisovans, and ‘Modern Humans’

 

As noted earlier, sciences are advancing at lighting pace.  They are providing new information that shows that old ideas about fundamental realities of existence were wrong.  Neanderthal remains and artifacts show they were brutal and violent, organizing and participating in horrific mass murder events.  They killed and killed and killed; it was what they were known for.  Their bodies looked something like us, but that was a coincidence.  They were not like us.  We are civilized and reasonable.  They were thought to be the primitive beings that lived in Europe before true humans arrived. 

However, we were told, we don’t have to worry about these horrible monsters bothering us.  They are now extinct and have been for tens of thousands of years.  Or so says every reference I could find to them that was written before about 2020.  Modern humans arrived at some point, only a few thousand years ago.  (Religious people are stuck on the figure of about 4,000 BC, the time given for creation in the Bible.) The neanderthals couldn’t compete with the logical, reasonable, empathetic and entirely civilized beings that we are. 

Denisovan remains were found far more recently.  They were not savage fighters, but they appeared to lack ingenuity and the normal curiosity of modern humans.  They were hunter gatherers, not even intelligent enough to build permanent cities or form governments.  They are also extinct.  These simple beings simply couldn’t compete with the wise, noble, and cultured beings that WE are. 

DNA evidence has shown that this is wrong.  All modern humans tested so far show some neanderthal DNA, some denisovan DNA, or both.  They are not extinct.  We are them.  DNA also shows that many babies were produced with one parent that was neanderthal or denisovan, and another parent that had a DNA profile and anatomical features indicative of a modern human.  This meant that we are all the same species.  They are not extinct.  They are still here.  We are them. 

You can have your DNA tested.  The testers will tell you your ancestry.  If you have any European ancestry, you will have neanderthal DNA.  If you have Indonesian, or American native ancestry, you will have denisovan DNA.

It is important for us to realize there is no hard line between us and our evolutionary ancestors.  Not between us and neanderthals/denisovans (which were, remember, the same species), not between us and the homo egaster/homo habilis (which may have been the same species) and not between us and the pans (two species, two different subspecies).  Evolution is a slow process.  Each change is tiny.  But the changes accumulate, one on top of the other.  We go from pans who live around fire to members of the homo genus that have brains that are large enough and powerful enough to actually understand how to use fire.  This didn’t happen overnight.  It took more than a million years of mental growth to get to that point. 

Fire is a very complicated thing.  We are still not fully in control of it.  It has uses that we still haven’t found, after three million years living with it.  But it is so powerful and so useful that nature was able to push through aside other adaptations to give animals that have the ability to use it priority over others.  A doubling of the brain size was necessary to make this work.  But nature was patient and, over the course of a million years, this happened. 

New brain connections were needed for this.  Each newborn was genetically unique, with its own DNA profile. Some had genes that made them more able to make these connections and form additional brain material to hold them.  These children grew up to be a tiny bit smarter than their parents and the generations that came before them.  The smarter ones had a better ability to deal with key tools and otherwise meet their needs.  They had a greater chance of survival than others and were more likely to survive long enough to pass on their genes to their young.  There are more than 3 billion connections in our DNA.  A single link of difference, which could be the result of a mutation or a chance inheritance that had simply never happened before, could make a difference in this area.  The generations get smarter and smarter.  Not in any way would notice in just a few hundred years.  But if you could come back and visit the beings living alongside of the fires near Unity once every thousand years, you would see a difference. 

Eventually, they were so different that people who are now studying their remains would want to put them into a different category.  They have to have something to call them.  So they come up with names, like homo egaster, homo habilis, neanderthals, and denisovans.  Until we had the ability to do large scale DNA analysis, we couldn’t do anything more than guess about the relationships.  Now we are finding that we can test relationships in detail.  This is showing that the differences aren’t really that great. 

We don’t have DNA from homo egaster or homo habilis (the presumed first steps in evolution from pans to humans), so we can’t test them.  We only know that beings with much larger brains than pans evolved in northern parts of Africa and eventually spread to the rest of the world.  We do have DNA from both neanderthals and denisovans and we know that they are the same species as we are.  We don’t look the same as they look.  You probably wouldn’t have a very satisfactory conversation with these beings and, if you considered them to be human at all, you would probably consider them to be very stupid humans.  But if you were in the right situation and mood and had sex with one of the opposite sex, the female could get pregnant and eventually give birth to a child that was healthy and fertile. 

Here is the point: there is no hard line.  We are them and they are us. 

 

Cultural Evolution

 

The neanderthals spread up into Europe and the Middle East.  That is where most of their remains have been found.  They lived in ‘settled’ areas.  in other words, they built ‘settlements.’  Border walls are a key feature of these settlements.  Wars were common.  Neanderthals are noted for their wars and brutality. 

Neanderthal countries that had better weapons had advantages in wars.  They built better weapons.  Neanderthal countries that were better organized for war, better able to build border walls, and better able to administer their economies to support the war machine, had advantages over others.  The same forces that pushed them to adapt their mental abilities to fire pushed them to adapt their mental abilities to war. 

War brings both offensive and defensive needs.  Defense generally means border defense.  For most of history, this meant walls.  The walls started out small and were easily destroyed or scaled.  They got bigger and bigger. 

The enormous costs of wall construction forced them to keep their enclosed areas fairly small.  They couldn’t have large countries, at least not at that time.  They built countries that are about the size of modern cities.  Historians call these small countries ‘city states.’ You can find the ruins of the ancient ‘city states’ in many places in Afro-Eurasia.  In areas where a lack of rain allows abandoned structures to survive hundreds of thousands of years, like the Nile corridor that runs through the Sahara, you can see signs of these ancient states just about everywhere you go.  in most places, the ancient city states were replaced by more modern city states, which were inhabited for extremely long period of time. 

You can also find signs of these ancient structures by looking at modern satellite images.  You can see how the majority of cities in Europe, along the Nile corridor, and in the middle east, are built on a structure that looks a lot like the ‘cells’ of beehives.  The old city walls are long gone.  But roads were built in their place.  You can get some idea, by the layout of the modern roads, how the city used to look when it was first put together. 

When humans first left Africa, some had the territorial sovereignty societies.  They spread these systems by colonization.  First, they went up the Nile corridor.  They built the oldest human settlements known.  Then they spread up through the area now called ‘the Holy land,’ and finally along the Mediterranean to Europe.  They did not go to the vast open lands to the east. 

 

There appear to be two for this: First, to get from the Mediterranean to the prime land in what is now Russia and ‘the stans’ (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan), you have to pass through barren and inhospitable deserts.  The colonial expansion system relies on transferring items made in the old and established communities to new colonies.  When people looking for land to colonize saw the deserts, they realized that it would never be practical to take everything needed to colonize it across the deserts.
       The other reason involves the weather.  We are now in a time of very warm weather.  It has lasted about 11,000 years.  This migration took place before this, in the ice age, when most of the best lands in Russia and the stans were covered with ice anyway, so even if they could get to them, they couldn’t colonize it. 

 

People could live in most of these other areas.  But the territorial system didn’t spread there.  The people who lived in these other areas were more like the homo egaster and denisovans than the homo erectus and the neanderthals.  Their societies were based more on cooperation than conflict. 

 

Technology

 

Fact Based History discusses the advance of technology over the period after members of the homo genus had left Africa.  The next major change involved language.  Language is a tool.  Almost all animals can hear sounds.  But only humans appear to have the ability to translate sounds into complex thoughts.  We have evidence that tells us that there was a dramatic change in this area that occurred about 70,000 years ago.  This evidence comes in the form of dramatic changes to the global environment that took place in the period between 70,000 years ago and 50,000 years ago. 

Members of the homo genus have always had an impact on our environment.  (Even pans made alterations to protect their territory).  But something happened during the Pleistocene era that was remarkable.  During this time, all major land predators of humans and all major competitors for the prime land that humans use to raise food became extinct, all at the same time.  No one has been able to provide an explanation for this other than extensive human cooperation.  It seems hard to imagine this level of cooperation without having a way to communicate complex ideas in ways that organize large numbers of people around a common end. 

The next major innovation is the domestication of the horse.  Horses existed in Afro-Eurasia since ancient times.  But these were tiny animals not suitable for either riding or pulling wagons.  About 6,000 years ago, breeders in what is now the Ukraine were able to put together the traits from several hundred varieties of animals in the ‘equine’ family to make a horse that humans could sit on and ride, and which would follow commands.  Other varieties of equine could pull wagons. 

Before horses, the countries had to be small, because it simply wasn’t practical to patrol and defend a larger area.  The states were ‘city states’ and were behind massive walls.  Horses made it possible to patrol large areas that didn’t have walls, and keep outsiders out. 

Before domesticated horses, most land on Earth was almost certainly not under the control of territorial sovereignty societies.  There were city states, but they were scattered fairly far apart.  The land between them was inhabited by people who had non-territorial societies. 

You may think of this as similar to the realities of life in North America before the United States became a country in 1776, and was forbidden to colonize land east of the Appalachian mountains.  Companies traded with the ‘Indians.’ They set up forts surrounded by walls, and admitted outsiders as necessary to carry out trade.  One kind of society existed inside the fort walls.  Another existed outside the fort walls.  At first, the forts were far away and most land had the non-territorial systems.  The people, mostly ‘Indians,’ lived outsider of the forts.  The forts were microcosms of the systems east of the mountains.  (Fact Based History references many books by people who lived during these times that explain life in this era.)

In 1776, a new government took over in the eastern part of North America.  It immediately abrogated all of the laws that had been passed before protecting the land west of the mountains, which had been allocated to ‘Indians’ by treaties of the former government.  The old government was gone and the new government wanted this land.  Colonization began immediately and the colonies spread quickly.  Within 24 years, most of the land east of the Appalachians but west of the Mississippi (which belonged to Spain at the time and was placed off limits by the new government, which wanted to maintain good relations with the government of Spain), had been colonized.  The people who lived in the other kinds of societies were ‘removed’ from the land, by methods that the history books of today would prefer children not know about.  The territorial sovereignty societies took over and, within two generations, controlled the land up to the Mississippi absolutely. 

The same thing happened in most of Afro-Eurasia in the period between 6,000 bp (before the present) and about 200 BP (or 1800 AD).  Territorial sovereignty societies grew in size and the amount of territory under the control of the NTS (non-territorial-sovereignty) systems declined. 

 

America

 

There is still a lot of controversy about when America was first inhabited.  Speculation goes back as far as 130,000 BP.  Some put it at 26,000 BP but historians who argue for more recent dates can find flaws in all of the arguments for the older dates.  The oldest indisputable evidence goes back only to 13,500 BP, with the Clovis Culture.  However long people lived here, they clearly had the NTS (non-territorial-sovereignty) systems.  Some of them had fixed settlements.  But they didn’t have the characteristics that societies built on sovereignty have, which include organized and planned defense of borders and an organized military industry. 

They didn’t act as if they felt each piece of land belonged to a specific tribe, which had the obligation to protect its borders and keep outsiders out.  In 1492, explorers funded by the government of Spain landed on islands near America.  They were looking for land to colonize.  They had orders that required them to take possession of any land they found that was not already under the control of a European king.  The conquest began the next year.  Colonies spread very rapidly and within 400 years all land in the Americas was claimed by one or another country. 

Similar events took place in Austrialia, New Zeland, Indonesia, and Polynesia.  By the year 1900AD, the entire world was under the control of people with one type of society, the territorial sovereignty system.  NTS (non-territorial-sovereignty societies) had been removed from the land. 

 

Apes With Nukes: This Is Not Safe

 

This kind of society was not created intentionally.  No council of intelligent humans was created to determine the best way for humans to organize the people of this planet to meet the needs of our race.  by intelligent and thinking human beings, who had the best interests of the human race in mind.  It existed long before humans evolved. 

It isn’t necessary or beneficial for humans that are alive today. 

The chimps needed to fight over land.  Evolutionary pressures push animals in certain conditions to organize certain ways.  They had no choice.  They don’t have intellect.  They cant find something better and put it into place.  Nature is in charge of them and there is nothing they can do about it. 

All beings must react to changing conditions around them or they will perish.  The conditions of our existence have changed.  We are not the same species as the pans.  Our brains are three times as large.  We are incredibly intelligent.  We have cognitive awareness and the ability to think scientifically.  We have control over variables they didn’t control.  Because of this, the societies that we inherited are no longer suitable.  We don’t need this system and we don’t want this system. 

We don’t need to wall of feeding territory in order to secure the food supply for each little tribe or group of people anymore.  We no longer have to live exclusively off of whatever food the land around us naturally produces (as the pans had to do). 

Technology has made it possible to produce incredible amounts of food for virtually nothing, in terms of resources.  Food is very, very cheap and fantastically abundant.  We grow so much of it that we actually have to worry about the problem of ‘oversupply,’ the production of too much food. 

 

The oversupply of food is actually a serious problem in many parts of the world because the oversupply can cause price collapses that can build on each other to destroy entire economies.  This can happen even if large numbers of people are starving to death in other parts of the world, at least in territorial sovereignty societies, because each territory is independent: it doesn’t consider anything outside its borders to matter.  The event called the ‘great depression’ started with a fairly minor fall in the stock market in one country, the United States.  This caused a slight reduction in demand for food, as people who were no longer quite as wealthy didn’t buy as many luxury foods.  Demand fell for food and prices fell.  Farmers saw the price decline and panicked, trying to get ahead of what they expected to be an even more serious price decline.  They dumped so much food on the market that prices fell below production costs.  As a result, the great majority fo the farmers in the United States went bankrupt they couldn’t afford their payments and their farms got repossessed.  The banks that repossessed them couldn’t sell them so they too went bankrupt.  When the financial system collapsed, the industrial sector collapsed (it can’t operate without a functioning financial system).  This quickly spread to the world and the entire world economy collapsed.  All because we had too much of a good thing.
       Not all societies work like this.  We will look at a type of society called a ‘Socratic’ where more of a good thing is always better.  But the societies that we live in are built on an animalistic principle, not a human ones.  They work in ways that seem as if they are crazy to any who expect logic.  If we want logical systems, we need to use logic to build systems that work in logical ways.  That is what this book is about. 

 

The pans had no choice but to fight over land when the population in an area got high.  If they didn’t, they didn’t eat.  We don’t have to do this.  We can all eat even if the land in the area where we live doesn’t produce any food at all. 

We also don’t have to worry about rising population eventually leading to more people than the land can support.  New technologies are making it possible for people to meet their physical needs (have sex) without having to produce babies.  The devices are brand new but they are being embraced by so many people that, even at this early date, we are seeing fertility rates in most of the world decline to replacement rates.  (In other words, populations in most of the world will be stable soon, due to the use of birth control.)

In some cases, where population pressures existed before birth control devices and people think there are too many people, the fertility rates are below replacement rates and populations are falling.  They will fall until they reach a level that the people are comfortable with, and will remain at a comfortable level.  We no longer have to suffer with hunger just because we have sexual desires.  These two things are not related anymore, at least for humans. 

Territorial sovereignty societies are designed by nature to meet certain needs that can’t be met other ways.  We don’t have these needs.  We don’t need these systems.

We don’t want them either:

They are built on ‘to-the-death’ violent conflict over territory.  We don’t need to waste our lives fighting and killing over something that doesn’t benefit us any more.  We have better things to do.  Even if we did enjoy the wars and want to keep them going, we don’t have this option.  We now have nuclear bombs and other weapons that can destroy the world.  Wars have no rules.  Once wars start, people will fight with any weapons they have.  Once we have nukes, we can’t keep territorial sovereignty societies.  Even if we loved the idea of war with all our hearts, and ached and pined to have a chance to live in a fetid trench under artillery bombardment where each moment could be our last, this is not an option.  These systems have to go. 

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