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Abstract

Although scientists are aware that humans share the same biological heritage as do all other organisms on the planet, the reliance of Homo sapiens on culture and cooperation has resulted in what can best be described as “a spectacular evolutionary anomaly.”1:11 The extra-somatic adaptations, technological dominance, and success of our species in colonizing every terrestrial habitat have no parallel.2 Moreover, Homo sapiens accounts for about eight times as much biomass as do all other terrestrial wild vertebrates combined,3 an amount equivalent to the biomass of all 14,000+ species of ants,4 the most successful terrestrial invertebrates. Human societies are complex, with more specialized economic niches in the United States than the total number of mammalian species on the planet.5 While some might suggest that only post-industrial humans achieved stunning biological success, data suggest that humans living as hunter-gatherers would have attained a world population of more than 70 million individuals6 and a total biomass greater than that of any other large vertebrate on the planet if agriculture had not been repeatedly invented as they spread.