It is clear that humans are distinguished from the other species on Earth, but what specific features are the cause? Other animals like chimpanzees have been shown to have consciousness and some self-awareness, dolphins likewise have a form of structured communication. What features of human biology (physical and/or mental) are unique to the human race as far as we know?

I would also appreciate any books or articles on these aspects of human biology if possible.

Thanks in advance!

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    $\begingroup$ "It is clear that humans are distinguished" - clear in what way? There are lots of species that are much more unusual compared to their relatives than humans are to theirs. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ In the sense that we have subordinated the natural world to our control to a degree unmatched by any other animal. I’m asking what the biological preconditions of this are. $\endgroup$
    – abdotheman
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 18:21
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    $\begingroup$ Humans are distunguished from other species by humans, due to chauvinism. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 18:24
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    $\begingroup$ Unmatched by any other animal? There are only some 7 billion humans. There are 10,000 trillion ants. In our own bodies, there are as many bacterial cells as actual human cells. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ To an extent I’m sure, but it isn’t purely that we ascribe exceptional qualities to humans simply because we are humans. No other animal species can manipulate its environment for specific ends in the same way humans can, which is what enabled us to develop our modern society. We must have some unique biological features that allow us to do this. $\endgroup$
    – abdotheman
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 18:50

1 Answer 1


When we take other similar species (or sub-species) into account, like neanderthals, we see that the difference is in the level of some capabilities like problem solving and memory.

And because of the level of these capabilities, modern humans can be distinguished as an animal which isn't bounded to a specific habitat on Earth.

If one looks to the animal species that live today and want to "distinguish" human, then she/he can think that there's a massive difference between human's and other amimals' communication and problem solving capabilities. But, rather than a difference, we need to look this as a kind of gap which isn't actually exist.

So, if needed, we can distinguish modern humans as a species from others on the basis of the results of their capabilities, not on the basis of the biological properties that cause these results.

Of course, this kind of questioning (trying to distinguish human) doesn't affect biological classification and identification of species at all, but it can affect people's general attitude and opinion on this issue.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE! Your answer reads like an opinion rather than being based on facts. What evidence can you supply for differences in problem solving and memory between Neanderthals and modern humans? Answers are much more likely to receive a favorable response if they include supporting references. ——— You may wish to consult the help pages for additional advice on how to provide effective answers: biology.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer. Thanks! 😊 $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Commented Aug 3, 2019 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ I mentioned Neanderthals just to bring to attention that modern humans/humans aren't "unique" in any way when we take all the species/sub-species that lived on Earth into account. $\endgroup$
    – serekani
    Commented Aug 4, 2019 at 7:41

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