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What Makes Us Human?


© AMNH / Rod Mickens

All species on Earth, including humans, are unique. Yet our intelligence and creativity go well beyond those of any other animal. Humans have long communicated through language, created and appreciated art and music, and invented complex tools that have enabled our species to survive and thrive, though often at the expense of other species.

We owe our creative success to the human brain and its capacity to think symbolically. While some other species can solve problems and communicate with each other, only humans use symbols to re-create the world mentally and dream up endless new realities. Although humans have not lost their selfish motivations, symbolic thought has opened our minds to spirituality and a shared sense of empathy and morality.

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