We think we are special, but are we any more special than other animals? After all, life is a family tree four billion years old, with branches enough to contain a billion species. One tree, one origin, with a common code that underwrites all existence, including our own.
This paradox – that our biology is indistinct from other animate life, yet we consider ourselves unique – is the central question of the human condition.
Many of the things we once thought of as unique to us are not. We are not the only species that communicates, or makes tools, or uses fire, or has sex for non-reproductive reasons, nor are we the only species to have made art. Humanity lies in all of these things and more, but quintessentially in our teaching. We are a species defined by expertise, and the desire to spread that knowledge.
Join award-winning science writer Adam Rutherford to hear the full story – informed by the latest scientific discoveries – of how we became us.