A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Thoughts to reflect on: Yuval Noah Harari

Credit: Gettyimages

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

1. "You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven."

2. "How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imagined."

3. "Culture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural. But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural. A truly unnatural behaviour, one that goes against the laws of nature, simply cannot exist, so it would need no prohibition."

4. "We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us."

5. "The romantic contrast between modern industry that "destroys nature" and our ancestors who "lived in harmony with nature" is groundless. Long before the Industrial Revolution, Homo sapiens held the record among all organisms for driving the most plant and animal species to their extinctions. We have the dubious distinction of being the deadliest species in the annals of life."

6. "This is the essence of the Agricultural Revolution: the ability to keep more people alive under worse conditions."

7. "How many young college graduates have taken demanding jobs in high-powered firms, vowing that they will work hard to earn money that will enable them to retire and pursue their real interests when they are thirty-five? But by the time they reach that age, they have large mortgages, children to school, houses in the suburbs that necessitate at least two cars per family, and a sense that life is not worth living without really good wine and expensive holidays abroad. What are they supposed to do, go back to digging up roots? No, they double their efforts and keep slaving away."


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Quest to uncover the origins of horse taming is rewriting our picture of the past

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Zooarcheology

Horses have been intrinsically entwined with human history for the past five millennia, acting as an early means of rapid transport and playing a key part in agriculture, warfare and sport.

Despite this, major decades-long mysteries have surrounded where and how modern horses were first domesticated. Yet a large international team of zooarchaeologists, historians and geneticists, all experts in horse evolutionary history, has recently started coming up with some answers. The results are showing just how much this can reveal about both the horse itself and about human history and culture – and how much we still have to find out.

'Horses are perhaps the animals that have had the most influence on human history,' said palaeogeneticist Ludovic Orlando, director of the Centre for Anthropobiology and Genomics of Toulouse, and a research director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research. 'They gave us speed and the way to transport things at a pace that we couldn't reach with our own legs.'

He talks of just how much they have been involved in human culture, helping, for instance, to drive the initial development of cities by aiding transport – something that can be forgotten in today's mechanised world.

And horses have left their mark on our everyday transport and industry of today, he added. 'If you think about what we call horsepower for cars, it doesn't come out of the blue; it's because it was a metric for measuring how fast a vehicle would be with respect to the horse,' he said.

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