Ancient Emotional Behaviors

Dinosaurs and the pre-mammals both appear just before the Great Dying. Both somehow survived. While still pre-mammals, a remarkable transition put lactation in place. Not long after the Great Dying, pre-mammals began the transition from cold- to warm-blooded. The female pre-mammals developed a placenta, setting up the final step: live birth. That lactation developed much earlier was finally used. At this point, they were mammals, not pre-mammals.

Each of these—lactation, warm-blooded, placenta, live birth—were giant steps in very small animals. This complex transition from reptile to mammal happened when the mammal was the prey, not the predator. Reptiles ruled. Generation after generation, the little parents must have stayed with the eggs and then the babies, providing warmth and moisture. A Darwinian cause is plausible; but parenting certainly seems to have played a role in these giant steps.

The comet 65 million years ago eliminated the predators; mammals were finally free.   Five million years later, a blink of the eye in geologic time, insects, lemurs, bats, primates, meat eaters, whales, dolphins and porpoises roamed the earth and swam in the oceans. Primates began the mammal line leading to us.

The monkeys were the first of the primates to veer off the evolutionary path that led to homo sapiens. This left the apes, including orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, gibbons and our predecessors. Slowly but surely, they separated. First went the gibbons, then orangutans, then the gorillas and finally the chimpanzees. Most are now endangered species.

Only our group, called hominids, remained. They walked upright. The brain had been enlarged during those four remarkable transitions to the first mammal. Instinctive responses were in the brain and still are. Evolved behaviors and emotions were stored there.

Early behaviors documented include fear, learning, memory, parenting, caring for others, and seeking one another. Earlier, cooperation, communication and what appears to be a mysterious force of attraction. The difficult transition from amphibian to reptile and then reptile to mammal had a great deal of parenting involvement.

Elaborate mating rituals involve color, sound, and body movement. Mating and sex go together; research indicates animals enjoyed sex. Darwin wrote that “males drive away rival males … females excite or charm those of the opposite sex and select the most agreeable partner.” Social harmonies appeared. Some mammals stay with a mate for life, confirming once again that attraction exists between the genders. Sharing and cooperation become broader. Death was understood. Research shows the roots of empathy are embedded deeply in our evolved behaviors.

How well did those emotional behaviors evolved from Big Bang to hominids carry forward into Homo Sapiens? Hominids split off from chimpanzees, but did not leave their past behind them. Chimpanzee and human DNA have 98% in common. Those emotions developed before hominids split off represent a good deal of the commonality.   But did those developed emotional behaviors still exist after the new variable, language, was in place?

Physical appearance became more human-like. Advanced behaviors such as tools, cooking, and hunting equipment appeared. A number of groups appeared and moved onto a good deal of Europe, Asia and Africa. All eventually became extinct. Before all became extinct, though, homo sapiens had appeared. Unfortunately for them, environmental conditions were hostile.

A volcano eruption eliminated all but a small number of homo sapiens. Those that survived prospered and began populating the globe. By this time, they used tools, cooked their food, made jewelry, and made spears and bow and arrow for hunting.

As the summary in the previous section show, a substantial array of emotions and behaviors had been seen even before hominids appeared. The questions, remains, though: what effect did thought have on these ancient emotional insticts?

Populating the earth took a lot of time; those nomadic groups moved slowly. Traveling in groups, they lived off the plants and animals around them. Evidence also shows their behaviors were consistent with those passed onto hominids. Eventually, though, groups started connecting with one another, and civilizations appear.

To answer the question posed above, five groups – five civilizations from Europe, Asia and North America – will be followed from the time these independent groups began merging into larger groups.

As much information as possible was first gathered about the civilizations in India, China, Greece, and Israel. This information was expanded by drawing on the work of three widely-respected researchers. Information regarding the last group, the Native Americans, was gathered independently.

Based on what was seen, did those slowly evolving behaviors pass onto homo sapiens? Generally speaking, the answer is “yes.”

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