Did shapes make us human?

man in color and shape

Photo illustration by Mark Riechers. Original images by Joe Shields and Tamanna Rumee (CC0).

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There’s a long history of theories about what sets humans apart from every other animal. Once it was thought to be agriculture. Then tool-making. Then the ability to deceive those around you. But scientists kept finding other species that do all these things. And today, language is often seen as the one unique human talent — or at least language with grammar and syntax.

But French neuroscientist Stanislas Dehaene believes there’s an even more basic cognitive skill that gave humans an evolutionary jump start – one that might have even come before language: geometry.