It seemed a simple story once. Out of the mud, God shaped a man. Or, life grew, and the millennia passed, and life grew more complex, from bacteria to sponges to trilobites to dinosaurs (omitting myriad steps!), until at last, a primate stood on its two feet and started growing a bigger and bigger brain. What a work of art is Man! (that was irony).
Bad enough we had to look at chimpanzees as distant cousins with whom we once shared a distant ancestor, but clearly no one ever came close to our own perfection.
The story turns out rather more complex (though if you put human arrogance aside, rather more plausible). There have been other hominid (human-like) species. In fact, the evolutionary “ladder of progress” turns out to be more like a bush. We’ve found bones for maybe 20 hominid species. Which raises, of course, a number of questions.
Like, is Homo sapiens the only one left because it is so superior to the others, or are we just last? (bear in mind Homo sapiens hasn’t been around that long), or maybe lucky?
Like, are we the only hominid species still around? (think Bigfoot, think Yeti)
If you think we won out because we’re so superior, check out the Neanderthal story. If you think it’s out of the question that other hominids could have co-existed with humans without us knowing, check out Flores Man.