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What makes humans different is externalised cumulative memory.

In other species, individuals learn, but their knowledge disappears when they die. So each generation has to start from scratch.

A few animals have very limited shared memory.

Only humans externalise memory in physical form, so learning and culture don't just persist across generations, but become cumulatively detailed and increasingly widespread and accessible.

Tool use isn't that unusual. A few animals can share tool strategies. Only humans can share tool strategies in a way that persists long after the original inventors died.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Nov 21st, 2013 at 11:31:39 AM EST
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