I have often wondered about the great innovations that we will never know for sure how they came about.

The wheel, fire, drawing, language, cooking, etc. It seems fun and reasonably feasible to reverse engineer scenarios for the advent of these things. Observation of the natural world would provide much of the answers. But how did it come about that principles observed in nature were harnessed by humans for purposes or in ways that nature never provided - or couldn't be counted on to provide?

Perhaps, we have to examine the emergence of imagination itself ...

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Does the wheel have a counterpart in nature? What was the wheel first used for?
Here's your answer - and it is a 'machine' no less - probably invented by these animals before we invented the sledge - let alone the wheel. This is one reason I look on 'invention' almost always as 'discovery.' It's also why I am convinced we need to stop looking at the world in an anthropocentric way. The universe does not revolve around us. (sorry - couldn't resist.)

I agree - necessity is the mother and all that ... However, I don't think it happens in a vacuum. I think we start by observing things around us an find new uses for them - or for the principles behind them. Or, we find useful relationships that bridge the principles at work in disparate things. I think that is the nature of creativity at its core.
This opens up another interesting avenue about conscious evolution - emergence through imagination. I'm starting another discussion. Thanks.

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