Humanity: Developmental Retards
I am presently enjoying an old thick history book. A footnote in the first chapter says:
“Biologically considered, the distinguishing mark of humanity was systematic developmental retardation, making the human child infantile in comparison to the normal protohuman. Some adult human traits are also infantile when compared to those of an ape: e.g., the overdevelopment of brain size in relation to the rest of the body, underdevelopment of teeth and brow-ridges. But developmental retardation of course meant prolonged plasticity, so that learning could be lengthened. Thereby the range of cultural as against mere biological evolution widened enormously; and humanity launched itself upon a biologically as well as historically extraordinary career.”
W H McNeill
“The Rise of the West”
I was thinking that domesticated animals are similarly developmentally retarded relations of their wild kin. Dogs mature to a wolfishly adolescent level. By remaining in a younger, more affably co-dependent state, they more easily get along with humans. From what I have seen, a lot of adult humans could be described as childish, and while the usual concern is that they are less effective for their childishness, they also subordinate themselves more readily to more ambitious leaders, and this facilitates collaboration.
Or, I guess, domesticated humans and animals fall more naturally into packs, for better and for worse.