Fandango’s Provocative Question #44 is What do you think was (or is) the most significant event in the history of the human race? Please explain.
The most significant event happened millions of years ago, when our homo ancestor evolved to walk upright. Although homo erectus was named for a human ancestor that walked upright, this ability had evolved even earlier, to a group of homo species known as Australopithecus.
Walking upright set in motion the evolution of human ability to use and transport tools, the earliest human “technology.” The ability to use a variety of tools led to homo species making tools, refining them, and differentiating roles in society. Using tools to solve problems also contributed to the evolution of the human brain into an increasingly complex organ, which led to our domination over other animals. Being able to walk upright allowed man to fashion spears, which they carried to hunt, and threw at animals they hunted for food. Being upright freed their hands to do different things, such as picking apart plants to extract the seeds, make pottery, create art, as well as contributed to the evolution of hands with apposable thumbs, allowing better grip and manipulation. These developments in turn led to increasing complexity of these primitive societies, with the division of labor and ultimately to settled communities. Humans have always been gregarious, but the ability to form larger communities began with the ability to make and transport tools and other useful objects.
We can say that in general, each development in technology led to an explosion of consequences that affected human evolution. This is true of the discovery of how to make fire, the development of the wheel, agriculture, and other technological advances, including in science, medicine and other areas, up to the present day. Think of how the invention of micro-computers has affected our everyday life – an explosion of cell phone technology and many other things we now take for granted. Now we have medical technology allowing for less-invasive surgery, totally electric cars, lithium batteries which can be used to store solar energy in homes, etc.
But it all started with a diminutive human ancestor millions of years ago, an australopithecine who began to walk upright.