‘No single, essential difference separates human beings from other animals.’ So began a feature article on evolution in TIME magazine (‘How Man Began’, March 14, 1994). The more I thought about this sweeping statement the more I began to warm to it.
For example, like humans, apes have well formed rational faculties. Their ability to develop an argument, follow a line of logic, draw conclusions and frame hypotheses is quite remarkable.
Also like humans, apes have a marked faculty for language. (This, of course, is intertwined with their powers of reason.) Their vocabulary is enormous, their grammar complex, and their conversations deep and meaningful.
The apes’ ability to codify language in writing is further proof of their close relationship to humans. In this respect, it was most gratifying to see the number of apes who wrote to TIME magazine in response to the article on ‘How Man Began’. I was particularly interested to follow the line of reasoning of the orang-utan who argued that apes had evolved from humans, not vice versa.
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