Abyss between humans and other species.

Why is there such a gigantic gap between human and the rest of the species, inhibiting our plant. Why is there no gradient, no intermediate steps? The answer might seem quite obvious but I never saw a scientifically based arguments trustfully explaining this phenomena.

Another question (may be it ought to be asked in a different post):

What are we good for?

The second question should be addressed in geological perspective and  humans must be considered to be just a single species, one among hundreds of millions of others. In geological terms we are here since just a blink of a second. Check this wonderful picture from Wikipedia:

the link to full size: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geological_time


There is not a single species besides homo sapience that makes harm to our planet. But there is something that makes us think we are so good that have moral or whatever right to scarify everything else. What is it?

Religion gives us a very good explanation: god created all the animals for us to eat. So that when we serve god we do not have to starve from hunger. Of course I don’t buy a single word what religion says. Any other explanations?

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"There are few people who love animals more than I do." Why does this sound so familiar? Oh! It sounds like bigots who always say,"Some of my best friends are negros!" When people tell me they LOVE animals, usually after saying something suggesting they don't, I always want to ask, "With ketchup, or steak sauce?"
Tell me I'm wrong.
I think that in majority of situations you would be right and I also think you love animals (with ketchup, or steak sauce I don't know).

My seeming inconsistency might be explained by the fact that I wasn't going to discuss the fact that man and other animals are different. My initial idea was to talk about this difference and its implications for the environment and future of our planet.

What I definitely wasn’t going to do is to compare man and other animals in terms of who is better or has more value of any sort. If you understood me that way then sorry for being not enough clear.
We are not different from other animals by most measures, however, what places us in a unique group was in a qualitative change in our brain and subsequent mental processing in conjunction with an articulating hand free of locomotion duties coupled with other characteristics of evolutionary successful species - omnivorous, year round fecundity in females and binocular, full color vision. And the very important language ability which allowed for the transmission of knowledge from generation to generation - something other animals can do on only a very limited basis.
The "curse" of such evolutionary largess is in our ability to systematically alter our environment in multiple generation spanning efforts. From a world wide environmental perspective we are probably not the best result evolution has produced.
Absolutely to the point! Totally agree.

Do you have any thoughts on why there are no intermediate humanoid species on our planet who might be considered to be rather human-like creatures than just a primates. If they for example would have somewhat smaller brain which wouldn’t allow them to write books or create poetry but at least afford having more or less developed language and culture.

I know that primitive cultures still exist. Primitive of course from the point of view of modern city dweller. But these cultures are actually us, the same species. But I’m talking about possibility of existence of another species, like if Australopithecus would be alive today. Do you think coexistence of such species would be theoretically possible or man wouldn’t tolerate presence of a potential rival?
Do you think coexistence of such species would be theoretically possible or man wouldn’t tolerate presence of a potential rival?

They would either be exterminated or treated as livestock (slaves). From an ecological POV, two species can not occupy the same niche - the stronger more adaptable species will ultimately dominate.
Jim,

I think that it is theoretically possible, but would actually depend on circumstances such as the state of resources and prospects for trade etc. One might argue that the European discovery of America was a bit of an early test which "we" mostly failed. We edged the Orignal Nations out of the best land and into the margins, killing many and weakening them, but did not extinguish them.

Now if they have their own "religion" well that might not be too good for them as evidence that they are not getting the right message or chosen.
The European entry into the Americas was, without a doubt, a failure - for the native peoples. For the Europeans - not so much. But, even if the most morally enlighten Europeans had been the vanguards of the incursion into the Americas and the native people were all welcoming and hospitable the outcome would have been little different. It would only have been a short time before a Eurasian disease appeared and the major killer of the native people, by a wide margin, would have done its lethal work.
Charles Mann's book 1491 is an excellent and fascinating work on pre-Colombian indigenous cultures that addresses this issue.
From an ecological POV, two species can not occupy the same niche - the stronger more adaptable species will ultimately dominate.

Sad but truth. Still..

There is such entity as human will which is reportedly capable of overcoming ecology (so bad for ecology!). Do you think for a second that it might be possible that because of some miraculous and quite improbable coincidence humans were more human than they are and after a long consideration decided to use their intellect for proclaiming other species as friends and granting them the ‘right’ for not to be exterminated? Imagine for example that we emerged from that infamous bottleneck enlightened by long ears of sitting at the sea shore and spending all that time in philosophical disputes with one another.
"the stronger more adaptable species will ultimately dominate."

Human breeding has a heaviest impact on the planet so responsible parenting is important. However, if a species can control its birth process it does change the slefish gene algorithm. It seems like a race against time to a systematic culture enlightenment that would provide a sustainable, biodiverse world -one with deep ecological values, such as shown on the attached file on eco-depth.
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Morality and ethics are a human created models used to help us understand our biologically inherited emotions and social behaviors. We are not so different from the rest of the beasts on earth, we just have slightly better cognitive abilities... lucky us!

Humans are part of the natural world just like all other life. What we do here is perfectly natural. Many animals have destroyed their own environment. Look what happens to bacteria in a closed system. They eat all the food until they all finally starve to death. Where is the morality in that? :^)


Spot on!!!
When we encounter another animal species which competes with us for ANYTHING (water, space, air, food) we try to exterminate them. They then have a smaller gene pool from which to produce useful variations. We prevent the evolution of other species. Also, look at how we have manipulated the gene pool of exploited/domesticated creatures. We have bred them for qualities which do not promote survival much less evolution. We deprive them of culture by removing babies from their parents, by raising animals of the same age for a few months to a few years then killing them. We kill chickens when they are : just hatched for males in egg production, a few months for the hens who lay eggs, and just a few months for those in meat production. Their normal lifespan can be more than 20 years! Then we add insult to injury by calling them stupid. How advanced culturally are our 6 month olds?
If you are talking about gene pools and consequently genetic evolution don't forget that this evolution is happening on a large time scale. Those few last thousands years that we are really affecting other species on the global level are simply not enough for any biological evolution.
Unfortunately this is not true for viruses and bacteria.

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