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Darwin's Unfinished Symphony$
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Kevin N. Laland

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691182810

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691182810.001.0001

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Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony

Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony

Chapter 1 Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony
Darwin's Unfinished Symphony

Kevin N. Laland

Princeton University Press

This chapter poses the question of the evolution of intellectual faculties. But a satisfactory explanation demands insight into the evolutionary origins of some of our most striking attributes—our intelligence, language, cooperation, teaching, and morality—yet most of these features are not just distinctive, they are unique to our species. That makes it harder to glean clues to the distant history of our minds through comparison with other species. At the heart of this challenge lies the undeniable fact that we humans are an amazingly successful species. Our range is unprecedented; we have colonized virtually every terrestrial habitat on Earth; exhibit behavioral diversity that is unparalleled in the animal kingdom; and resolved countless ecological, social, and technological challenges. When one considers that the life history, social life, sexual behavior, and foraging patterns of humans have also diverged sharply from those of other apes, there are grounds for claiming that human evolution exhibits unusual and striking features that go beyond our self-obsession and demand explanation.

Keywords:   human intellect, behavioral diversity, life history, social life, sexual behavior, human evolution, language, cooperation, teaching, morality

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