This is going to be a new series in the spirit of understanding the evolution of beings that would ultimately result in higher cognition, the highest being the human ability for logical natural language (my personal area of research). We are all, of course, descendants from the same single source, but even though we share much of our genetic materials with the higher apes — bonobos, chimpanzees etc. — we are still separated by a very tiny subset of cognitive abilities when compared to the higher primates. These abilities, often abstract computational in nature, must nontheless be explained as biological endowments, which in turn require an evolutionary (thought not necessarily adaptationist) explanation.
This series, though, is not so much meant to be an in depth elaboration of the concerned science as it is meant to be food for thought… How did we get here, with our abilities to do mathematics and write poetry, and engage in all sorts of abstractions, starting with the simple, yet revolutionary, ability to imitate and use tools?
David Attenborough: BBC Earth’s Amazing DIY Orangutans