What Makes Humans Different?


This is a question each child asks. What is the main distinguishing factor between us, the humans, and the rest of the living organisms, particularly the animals? It turns out that this difference did not originate from a single characteristic. Instead, a few elements play their part in setting us apart, as noted by numerous science and history books as described below.

  • Large brains: This is the main and the most obvious determinant. Throughout the history, whenever any kind of storage arose in a natural system, it pushed the natural limits and introduced new kinds of dynamics. Humans have a larger brain (around 1300 to 1600 grams) as compared to all the animals which has a greater capacity to store and process information. The possibilities then become endless.
  • Social connections: While 150 individuals is considered as an upper limit of our social circle we can closely interact with, these connections are much richer and deeper than those from the other species. This sends us to new routes of cooperation and creativity.
  • Language: A derivative from the above two factors, we can communicate in a variety of manners conveying a possibly infinite meanings. This is the reason scientists call us informavores in addition to carnivores and herbivores.
  • Fiction: Animals can see and think about things around them. With a larger capacity in their brains, humans can even think and vividly imagine things that even do not exist. Then, with the right intention, they can create those things from nothing through intention and step-by-step action. This is the most absurd factor in this list but perhaps the most powerful.
  • Dexterous hands: With long figures and wide palms, humans can create a lot of stuff through using the raw materials around them (most importantly the tools required for survival and dominance). Our skillful hands are matched only by chimpanzees and gorillas but they do not have intelligent brains. Imagine a powerful animal like a tiger with an intelligent brain. There is only a limit unto which it can bend and create the surrounding environment. At one point or another, it will hit a limit set by the claws and miss out on the opportunity provided by our dexterous hands.

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