Oh the Humanity
We used to be told that the use of language is what distinguishes us from the animals. That was before we realized that dolphins were basically talking… and whales, birds, etc. etc. Or, humans use tools, no animal does that. Except chimps. And then was it opposable thumbs? Whoever thought that didn’t have raccoons prying open his green bin every night. I’ve also heard empathy proferred as the trait that earns us our “human” membership badge. Except… goddamn dirty apes again.
The Netflix doc series Cooked, an adaptation of Michael Pollan’s latest book, argues that cooking is what makes us human. Animals all eat raw food. Gorillas spend half their waking hours masticating. (And the other half masturbating? Sorry. Could not resist the punny punch-up opportunity.) Humans have smaller jaws and slenderer gut-zones and big juicy brains because it’s easier to ingest cooked stuff so we can get more energy into us to make our brains all big and juicy.
It’s a nice theory, and especially comforting for those of us who actually cook – but how long until they discover a raccoon who is loading garbage into a castoff crock pot? A chimp roasting chestnuts over an open fire? Fire Eagle, the Fire Breathing Eagle and Southern Barbeque Pitmaster? Or fucking bees, does that count?
Let me get ahead of this potential fiasco and list off some things that are still exclusive to humans so we can use it in our brand positioning:
- We are the only animal to practice genocide. So there’s that.
- Jazz. Only human musicians have the sophistication to play jazz.
- Only humans have a Donald Trump. Nice try, cats.
- Hats! No animals wear hats, but if they were to wear hats, it would be adorable.
- And spaceships. Let’s see some fucking otters do that. Send a fucking otter to space. Not likely, you buncha dumb otters.
Alternately we can stop fooling ourselves and just admit we’re stinky animals like everyone else, albeit better dressed.