2.a.2. Historical evolution and human evolution

Another aspect appeared in previous examples of historical evolution is that the changes of scale can affect particular objectives of a system and that the relevant variables are different from short-term and long-term variables. We must be especially careful when talking about internal dynamics in biological evolution or human evolution; given that, this concept is inevitably associated with individuals or a system and this can change according to the scale in which we move.

Let’s remember that, when speaking about the limits of knowledge, the temporal and spatial horizon has been mentioned as a factor that impedes the logical reasoning when operating as limits of intelligent perception.

With the perception of a dynamic system in the long-term or historical evolution, we can imagine something similar to a film with all of the detailed perceptions; giving us the effect that the film has internal dynamics, because indeed it has; but it is not the internal dynamics of the individual changes but rather of the film in of itself.

Perhaps it is a typical effect of the long-term models or historical evolution. The human mind tends to study, not to complicate an already complex system, the changes or evolution of the external perception of the model; that is, that it tries to carry out a partial analysis while not being able to take on all of the overall problems of the model.

In the biological evolution of man, something similar occurs with the theory based on the natural selection in which it seems like it has its own internal dynamics, and it does. However, this is only referring to one of the determining factors of evolution that also operate in the result of real evolution.

The theory of natural selection refers exclusively to the elimination of new beings and their descendants through their better adaptation. It is necessary, as a result, to give a random trait to the rest of the possible determining factors or elements of human evolution. At the same time, it needs the long-term in human evolution, with all of its inconveniences, so that its internal dynamics are capable of producing similar effects, in appearance, to those of real evolution.

Recent information and very nice presentation of history of human evolution along the last 160.000 years and the geographic routes taken by our ancestors are in the page Journey of mankind - The Peopling of the World. *

The phenomenon of a long-term study of historical evolution is equivalent to that of the change of scale. Let’s cite, as a summary, some of the problems that arise to a greater or lesser extent:

  • The tendency is to lose the long-term temporal notion, and the spatial notion is a different scale from the human one.
  • The changes due to the representative variables are not always correct.
  • The same problem can appear about the dynamics or internal relationships of the system, of its individuals or system and of its particular objectives.
  • There not only can change the variables but those that remain can change their nature. For example, a discrete short-term variable can be a continuous variable due to the changing of scale.
  • When changing the spatial or temporal reference of a specific analysis of historical evolution, we need explicitly mention the aforementioned changes

Genetics is on a different scale from ours. In the theories of human evolution, there is a tendency for the long-term analysis.

Let us analyze a main characteristic of historical evolution, by means of a graph, how a long-term model eliminates the perception of short-term changes. The figure shows an exponential growth whose ratio is 1.25, but by only triplicating the period of time, a sufficient visual effect is achieved

Exponential growth perception
Exponential growth of intelligence

Let us imagine the effect that a long-term model produces that, Also, is considered blurred. Obviously, the optical effect appears because the scale has changed, but we have seen that, in many analyses, the scale also changes. It is also logical that, in the history of human evolution, the scale has to change in the long-term model.

In spite of being conscious of the change of scale and knowing the growth is exponential, we cannot stop thinking that, in the second figure, there is hardly any growth during the first 15 periods. It is worth noting that the exponential growth is common in the models of temporal sequence and in the historical evolution.

Another additional problem is the ability to measure such small differences in the data when the scale of the normal world is the one corresponding to the latest period, especially when the other extreme of the biological evolution of man is the origin of life.


Being a human or a chimpanzee is distinguished by a little more than 1% of the genome, only ten times more than the very difference between two individual humans.

...It is estimated that the genetic difference between the human being and the chimpanzee lies in no more than 400 million nucleotides (the elements of DNA) from a total of 3 billion...

El País 20-02-2002

In short, no one wants to say that certain types of studies or analyses can be carried out, but that the limits of the human mind must be recognized when it comes to intelligent perception of certain variables and relationships and, therefore, placing special care in the conclusions that are derived from them.

These thoughts lead us to study the implications of understanding only long-term human evolution and the elimination of short-term evolution when thinking about human origin and biological evolution of man. People in general accept this implication very firmly while creating the idea that they have about our species and their selves.


Let’s cite some of the most relevant consequences and facts of the historical evolution of man:

  • The intellectual capacity of the Homo sapiens has not substantially changed during the last 30,000 - 50,000 years.

  • The ability to make fire is considered a great evolutionary leap in the human evolution keeping in mind the cerebral capacity of the first humans to achieve it.

  • Another great milestone in human evolution for their small intellectual capacity is the discovery, surely by accident, of the wheel.

    Scribe - Louvre Museum Egypt 2500 BC and 1450 BC
    Egyptian scribes, 2500 BC  Egyptian scribes, 1450 BC  
  • Despite the human mental capacity, in the beginning of our species, we did not talk much nor create large grammatical structures because, either, for what we did, it was not worth the time, or because we had to wait for our vocal cords to develop through random mutations of the transmitted genetic information.

  • In ancient Egypt, humans developed a great ability for construction with the pyramids, managing to get it so that the walls would not fall over for a long period. There is a reason that they are the only ones of the seven wonders still standing!

  • Before the Greeks, the scientific philosophy and development did not interest us, except for some honorable exceptions.

    Some Greeks believed that the practical application of knowledge meant reducing it and, therefore, should only stand in the world of ideas.

  • With the human evolution of the Romans, thanks to their technology, it was fairly easy to build aqueducts in a closed channel, since we had not noticed, for some unknown weakness, that the level of water tends to be the same. Not even the inhabitants of the coasts or the seamen realized this fact in spite of the nooks and crannies where the land and water meet in many places.

  • Another great Roman contribution to historical evolution, without knowing its exact origin, was beginning to count with down strokes. Going so far, even, as to represent five down strokes with a V, which simplified mathematic calculation considerably.

  • The idea that the Earth was round or spherical was a little difficult to believe; especially in view of the moon and the sun. The shape of the half-moon had not been seen anywhere else, not even by aiming a flashlight onto an orange. Finally, thanks to the accumulated knowledge transmitted from generation to generation, 500 years ago there was the conviction that indeed it was spherical and revolved around the sun. Even though it may have gotten someone into trouble –Galileo (1564-1642)– by that of the generational leap.

  • We were fortunate when it occurred to Newton (1642-1727), thanks to his weakness for apples and the trend for thinking during his time, to expand on his weakness, and he proved, amazingly, that something similar occurred to the sun and the moon.

  • Miguel Servet (1511-1553), a Spaniard, wasn’t so lucky with his ideas about the pulmonary circulation and the role it has in respiration in the transformation of venous blood into arterial; surely, he didn’t present them in the same poetic feeling as Newton.

  • Just in case, and so that no one doubts the non-short-term historical evolution of the human intellect, we need to adjust the different scales used to measure the IQ (intelligent quotient) every 20 to 25 years at most.

    And when the IQ of some geniuses of mankind are estimated (like some authors do and are recognized for their informative contribution about the human evolution); of course, they are properly adjusted to the corresponding era  to facilitate its comprehension and to be loyal to the reality that the quotients used are only a relative measurement! If we had a similar measurement at our disposal for height, it would turn out that the Romans were as tall as humans nowadays in Italy. It will be another of the quantum effects of the relativity of space and time!

In short, I could continue giving examples indefinitely; on the other hand, I am sorry for having used a certain irony in these last points, but I too have some weaknesses.

At no time I attempted to diminish the contribution from those mentioned above; besides, it was quite the contrary since the indicated advances make up part of the history of human evolution and clearly show, in my opinion, the gradual improvement of the capacity of the human mind since the origin of man.

Going back to the usual seriousness and relating the previous points to the figures of exponential growth, think how the Homo sapiens have had 2,000 generations at most, according to the latest paleontological estimations, and that it seems to be that the IQ shifts 10 points every 20 years, which means approximately 10 points every generation.


Found in Ethiopia, the oldest fossils of…  
...three skulls from 160,000 years ago...
...Given the small differences with the skulls of the current species, those responsible for the discovery and analysis are in favor of naming a new subspecies for these fossils; Homo Sapiens Idàltu, but specifying that by shape and size they are very close to the Homo Sapiens (the current humans)...

El País 12-06-2003 Nature

To finish this section, pointing out that the advances in biology and genetics show us, each time with greater clarity, the changes in genetic information and their interrelations in the short-term evolution which will undoubtedly make it so that these and other classical approaches become surpassed in the near future.