What prevents other animals/species from evolving and developing cognitively the same way humans have?


What prevents other animals/species from evolving and developing cognitively the same way humans have?

In: 145

The start is the requirement for a really smart brain, so it would need to be an omnivore or a non-specialist carnivore. The more types of food they eat the more likely there is a requirement for the brain to develop a special hunting technique or a method of harvesting the food and judging the ripeness etc. On top of that would be a need for social interaction with others of the same species and a method of communication and detecting mood changes in others.

Nothing inherent, but if there’s no selective pressure for that then those traits are incredibly unlikely to develop. Evolution doesn’t have a goal, so it’s not like everything trends to evolve towards greater intelligence and cognition.

Personally I think the main difference humans how is how ability to predict outcomes. There are plenty of animals that use tools, have complex hunting strategies, and some even have a form of communication. Humans are able to see the things at play and accurately predict what will happen next.

I think we gained this ability through our long distance tracking and hunting method. When we chase a gazelle or something, it runs off and we track it until we scare it again. As ancient humans were pretty much built for long distance running and cooling ourselves off with our unique sweet glands. Bipedal movement was also very efficient for distance travel. Basically we tracked and predicted where animals were and that lead humans to being able to predict a lot of things at the cost of sometimes our assumptions being wrong.

There are a number of quite intelligent species, displaying a range of human abilities. Octopuses, corvids (ravens, crows and that family), true parrots, other primates etc.

They display advanced problem solving and predictive skills, tool usage, language, complex social behaviours (crows seem to tell eachother about “bad people” they haven’t personally met). Some animals are significantly better than humans at certain complex tasks and features (memory, navigation, cooperation etc.).

There’s even the apocryphal joke from a Yellowstone Ranger how there’s “a significant overlap between the dumbest tourists and smartest bears” (in the context of bear-proof but human-accesible bins).

So the fact is that there isn’t one single thing that elevates humans over animals, some single hurdle to clear. To the best of my knowledge, what allowed humanity to surpass animals is complex speech and dextrous hands.

One for allowing ideas to transcend any single individual and allow progress of a group. Again, species like crows seem to have the same ability (mind, this is still being researched). Other species, like chimps, have rather limited language, so a limited ability to pass on ideas.

The other for complex interaction with the world. Making complex tools, and eventually writing (which ties in to complex soeech, I suppose). Even other toolmaking species don’t have a human’s capacity.

There was a similar question asked here yesterday, actually.

The simple answer is that they don’t need to.

Evolution has no end-game. It’s not trying to evolve towards some goal or ideal final form. Being smart isn’t the point, surviving well enough to produce large numbers of offspring is and there are a lot of ways nature lets something do that.

Put another way, if evolution had any point produced particularly intelligent bears or piranhas that cleverness didn’t help them outcompete everyone else for resources the way it did us. There is no rule that says swimming really well or having powerful and fast jaws can’t also grant success.