This course is a quest for the secret of human uniqueness. The success of Homo sapiens, has been described as "a spectacular evolutionary anomaly" that has resulted in human domination of the Earth's biosphere. We will use the comparative method to journey through the Animal Kingdom in hopes of discovering the preadaptive elements that enabled such incredible evolutionary success. On our way we will survey chimpanzee warfare, tool using octopuses, eusocial ants, and night-time hunter-gatherer sentinels - all of which will allow us to better understand the forces that shaped unparalleled cooperative networks in humans. Finally, we will investigate the cognitive and behavioural blessings and curses associated with the drive to belong to a group. The goal of the course is to equip students with a greater understanding of the human condition - and how to leverage this understanding to improve their lives.
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