2013.12.06

All that is certain is that we alone survived to claim the Earth. We won the planet. But at a cost: We are without close family. We are a species racked by survivor’s guilt. We are a lonely ape.

Paul Salopek, “Out of Eden”, National Geographic December 2013.

The first installment of Salopek’s walking journey out of Africa, through Asia, and down to the tip of the Americas, is the best thing I read today. Of course, then I went to Wikipedia for more. I love this opening paragraph of the Human Wikipedia page, which reads like it was written by someone who is not.

Humans (variously Homo sapiens and Homo sapiens sapiens) are primates of the family Hominidae, and the only extant species of the genus Homo. Humans are distinguished from other primates by their bipedal locomotion, and especially by their relatively larger brain with its particularly well developed neocortex, prefrontal cortex and temporal lobes, which enable high levels of abstract reasoning, language, problem solving, and culture through social learning. Humans use tools to a much higher degree than any other animal, and are the only extant species known to build fires and cook their food, as well as the only known species to clothe themselves and create and use numerous other technologies and arts.