In Hidden Depths, Professor Penny Spikins explores how our emotional connections have shaped human ancestry. She explains how the emotional sensitivities of our earliest ancestors drove them to care for vulnerable members of their group, and how new connections based on generosity, trust and inclusion made early groups of humans resilient to ecological changes. These deep-seated emotional capacities then provided the basis to allow later human ancestors to further reach out beyond their local group and care about distant allies. At each stage emotional capacities to collaborate in new ways also brought with them increasing sensitivities and vulnerabilities which continue to influence our world today. Our close relationships to animals, and even to cherished possessions, as well as our need for a sense of belonging can be explained through new human vulnerabilities and ways of seeking comfort.
This new narrative moves away from one in which our evolutionary journey is a simple progress to some better form, and instead demonstrates different evolutionary pathways and key transitions which bring us nearer to, rather than away from, other animals. Our close cousins, the Neanderthals, are revealed as equally caring yet emotionally different humans, and who might, if things had been different, have been in our place today.
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