Why Humans Aren’t Just Great Apes


  • Robert I.M. Dunbar Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford, UK




human cognition, social brain, group size, intentionality, religion, hominid evolution


Although we share many aspects of our behaviour and bi­ology with our primate cousins, humans are, nonetheless, different in one crucial respect: our capacity to live in the world of the imagination. This is reflected in two core aspects of our behaviour that are in many ways archetypal of what it is to be human: religion and story-telling. I shall show how these remarkable traits seem to have arisen as a natural development of the social brain hypothesis, and the underlying nature of primate sociality and cognition, as hu­man societies have been forced to expand in size during the course of our evolution over the past 5 million years.


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How to Cite

Dunbar, Robert I.M. 2008. “Why Humans Aren’t Just Great Apes”. Etnoantropološki Problemi / Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 3 (3):15-33. https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v3i3.1.