For millions of years, humans hunted smaller creatures and gathered what they could, all the while being hunted by larger predators. Their position in the food chain was, until quite recently, solidly in the middle. It was only 400,000 years ago that several species of man began to hunt larger game on a regular basis, and only in the last 100,000 years – with the rise of Homo Sapiens – that man jumped to the top of the food chain.
Other animals at the top of the pyramid, such as lions and sharks, evolved into that position very gradually, over millions of years. This enabled the ecosystem to develop checks and balances that prevent lion and sharks from wreaking too much havoc.
In contrast, humankind ascended to the top so quickly that the ecosystem was not given time to adjust.
Having so recently been one of the underdogs of the Savannah, we are full of fears and anxieties over our position, which makes us doubly cruel over and dangerous. Many historical calamities, from deadly wars to ecological catastrophes, have resulted from this over-hasty jump.
Yuval Noah Harari
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