We all have grandparents, whether or not we get to see them much. Just like we all have parents, it’s impossible to be born without two sets of grandparents. You might like getting to enjoy Grandma’s cooking or hear Grandpa’s stories about life back in the day, but it turns out that these elder members of the family were super important for the evolution of the species – or at least its growth.
You see, grandparents eventually stop having kids, but often they will maintain a desire to be around children and keep their tribe safe. Thus, grandparents stepped in to take care of the kids while the parents went about having more of them. So if you enjoy the fact that humans were able to spread so wide, thank the grandparents.
Blue? No Such Thing
Here’s an incredibly strange piece of trivia: a word for blue didn’t exist until about four or five thousand years ago. However, early writing included red, yellow, green, black, white...everything except blue. How could this be? Both the sky and the seas are famously blue, so how could early civilizations such as the ancient Arabians and Chinese all miss the shade?
They might not have even recognized the shade, seeing as how it makes up so much of the stuff we look at. It wasn’t until the Egyptians discovered a way to dye stuff blue (such as their clothing) that the word blue started to appear in writing. This is how we get phrases like “the wine-dark sea” from Homer since he didn’t actually have a color to describe the water he was looking at.
We’re the Ones That Choke
Did you know that humans are one of the few animals that commonly have to worry about choking? Even if you’ve never really gotten something stuck in your throat, you’ve probably had a couple of scares while eating hot dogs or something like that. This is because of our handy dandy voicebox, which allows us to do things like talk. Only talk, we guess, unless you count singing as something different.
Which is fair, now that we think about it. Our voice box is much lower, allowing us to make many more sounds, but it comes at a cost – it’s much easier for stuff to get stuck there. Natural selection decided, at some point, to prioritize being able to speak over not choking for who knows what reason.
If You Can Throw, You’re Human
There are a lot of things that separate us from the lesser apes, like making and eating pizza. However, Doctor Neil Roach and a team of biologists at Harvard University have found out that one certain thing that we’ve developed sets us apart from our genetically similar cousins in the primate family – being able to throw with incredible speed and accuracy. Not a single other species can throw even close to as good as we can.
This specific evolutionary trait allowed us to hunt down larger animals from a distance, which kept us much safer. We could hurl spears and rocks to take down wooly mammoths (or other big creatures) which gave us plenty of tasty, brain-growing meat to enjoy, and thus we reached the point we are at today.
We All Have the Same Mother
The study of human genes and development has led researchers to posit the idea of a shared ancestor to every human alive today, known as “Mitochondrial Eve.” She likely existed something like a hundred and fifty thousand years ago if she did exist, and every human had her as a common ancestor. Just THINK of the number of cards she gets on Mother’s Day.
Literally every single person has her to thank if this theory is correct. Of course, this theory is contested, but there is plenty of evidence that seems to point toward it being the truth. A matrilineal ancestor – or, at least, the most common one – would tell us a lot about how the species developed.