Why Are You So Smart? Thank Mom & Your Difficult Birth


A reconstructed skeleton of Lucy, the famous human ancestor. By 3.2 million years ago, Australopithecines were walking upright, imposing strict limits on the size of the female pelvis.Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Looking around our planet today, it’s hard not to be struck by humanity’s uniqueness. We are the only species around that writes books, runs experiments, and builds skyscrapers. Our intelligence must have also been useful when we were evolving—presumably it helped us to be better hunters and avoid being hunted ourselves, for instance. Perhaps even more importantly, our growing intelligence enabled early humans to compete with each other: We evolved to be intelligent to keep up with everybody else evolving to be intelligent. Smarter people are more

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus10 min read
Raising the American Weakling: There are two very different interpretations of our dwindling grip strength.
When she was a practicing occupational therapist, Elizabeth Fain started noticing something odd in her clinic: Her patients were weak. More specifically, their grip strengths, recorded via a hand-held dynamometer, were “not anywhere close to the norm
Nautilus8 min read
Why Our Postwar “Long Peace” Is Fragile
You could be forgiven for balking at the idea that our post-World War II reality represents a “Long Peace.” The phrase, given the prevalence of violent conflict worldwide, sounds more like how Obi-wan Kenobi might describe the period “before the dark
Nautilus5 min read
Why We Need Court Jesters in Space: Behavioral scientists explain why Mars missions need humor.
The great polar explorer Roald Amundsen credited expedition cook Adolf Henrik Lindstrøm as having “rendered greater and more valuable services to the Norwegian polar expedition than any other man.” He was citing not only Lindstrøm’s vaunted prowess a