The human being began its evolutionary story 65 million years ago with the apparition of the first primates. Millions of years later, the family of great apes appeared (orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos): our closest living evolutionary relatives. One of the most relevant characteristics of the human species and of the rest of great apes is the high level of sociability. In order to learn more about this trait of our evolutionary history, it is extremely interesting to observe this same aspect in our evolutionary cousins. We share with them a complex social structure and organization, although there are notable differences between one species and the other. From the lonely life of orangutans, we can go to the "harem" groups of gorillas, and to the complex fission-fusion communities of chimpanzees and bonobos.
But, in what do we differ from the great apes? Which are the main similarities that we share with them in regards to our social life? In all of us, males and females have different roles within the group. Like them, we are self-conscious, and have the capacity to assign intentions to others. Both of these aspects are very important for life in society. We live within complex groups where it is necessary to negotiate, exchange, and cooperate with members of the community. We develop within a social dynamic where sometimes it is necessary to cooperate and coordinate with other individuals, and where strategy, leadership, and the exchange of goods and services is present in our everyday life.
But although we share a social nature, the human being has evolved until becoming an ultra-social primate. What does "ultra-social" mean? Where has this trait reflected along the evolution of the human being? Our social abilities not only has fostered our survival in a complex society, but also our intelligence has evolved to allow us living and exchanging knowledge in cultural and technological groups. Thus, evolution has forged our brain and cognition until making us primates characterized above all by the development of a complex social and cultural intelligence.
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