Nautilus

Why Are You So Smart? Thank Your 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

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