Why Is There Only One Human Species on Earth?

Our title question is important for realizing what kind of species we are, and what kind of future we can expect when we eventually — as we must — move out into the galaxy to settle on other habitable worlds.

Let’s begin with this planet. Opinions vary, but so far it seems that there were at least nine human species that used to exist on this world — see, e.g.:How many early human species existed on Earth?, suggesting that there were eight others; and Nine Species of Human Once Walked Earth. Now There’s Just One. Did We Kill The Rest?

Like the author of that second article, we suggest that it was Sapiens who wiped out our competitors, and now the world belongs solely to us. Oh, maybe some of the others died off naturally, because of disease, famine, ice ages, etc., and maybe one of those species wiped out some of the others. It’s possible, so we’re not saying we’re responsible for the disappearance of all of them. Also, in recent millennia we had one big advantage — our dogs. We’ve written about that before — see Why Are the Neanderthals Extinct?

Or maybe we were always good guys, and somehow we survived while all the others somehow died off. That’s possible — but extremely unlikely, at least in our opinion. We’ve competitive, and we always were. That’s why the world belongs to us.

So what’s it going to be like when we get out there and start settling on the habitable worlds of other planetary systems? No problem, if no intelligent species is living on a world — but what if they are? Will we be galactic good guys and say: “Oh, you Munchkins have such a nice planet, with so much fertile land and an abundance of valuable minerals. You’re so lucky. We’ll leave you to enjoy your world. Farewell, Munchkins!”

Does that sound like us? Really? Or what if we’re the Munchkins and some very advanced bunch of aliens visits our pretty planet. Do you think the aliens will be benevolent and leave us alone? Seriously?

So where does that leave us? We don’t really know what happened in the past, because no one kept written records that long ago. We do have records of what happened when Europeans discovered North and South America — and those continents were inhabited by Sapiens, like us. That’s probably why they’re still alive. Imagine how it would have been if the native population were Neanderthals.

It’s quite likely that our species has always behaved that way. Nothing to be ashamed of — it’s who we are. And that’s why the galaxy is going to belong to us, but only if we get out there before it’s all claimed by others with better technology.

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

16 responses to “Why Is There Only One Human Species on Earth?

  1. We do have records of what happened when Europeans discovered North and South America — and those continents were inhabited by Sapiens, like us. That’s probably why they’re still alive.
    Perhaps through competitiveness we did wipe out the other species whose physical, mental or other characteristics did not match our “superior” traits. On the other hand, are we as a species truly homogeneous? Physical appearance differences still set us apart, skin color, perceived intelligence, physiques and other real or made-up differences continue to perpetuate animosity between our existing human species. Is it friendly competition or a drive for supremacy of one “race” over another, e.g. white or black power? By a society as a whole or by a fringe group?
    Too, the alien encounter question may someday be faced by our species. Sci-fi has tried to answer the question with no real resolution as of yet. We might even kill all our life forms, including us, off before we even have an opportunity to meet them.

  2. By “human” you mean of the genus Homo?

  3. I mean why are we the sole surviving species of that genus?

  4. Maybe they beat us to the stars…

  5. And I think that there is little genetic variation in Homo sapiens, compared with other species, especially considering the number of individuals and geographic spread.

  6. Theodore J Lawry

    Who told you there is only one? We walk among you!

  7. “Nothing to be ashamed of — it’s who we are. And that’s why the galaxy is going to belong to us, but only if we get out there before it’s all claimed by others with better technology.”
    What I like is that this perfectly fits the stereotype Kclunkcerduncker and co make of “Darwinism”. What I like most is that neither of you is wrong, only guilty of cherrypicking empirical data plus the is-ought fallacy.


  8. DavidK did not go far enough…the racist aholes that settled Mass. tried KILLING off as many natives as possible, and many more arrived here KILLING off all that was needed to take what we wanted. Looking at the capital mob of raciest aholes and their actions, anything out there that does not look like us, had best be stronger than US and have good immigration policy…kill us before we settle there! As a Star-trek fan I like the vision but I never underestimate the st00pidity or evil of humans!!! History shows us for what we have been and I hope we get better!

  9. L.Long criticizes “the racist aholes that settled Mass.”

    Interesting that you choose to attack those who drafted the Mayflower Compact, while ignoring the Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Dutch who — for more than a century — had been brutally colonizing South America, Central America, and all the Caribbean islands.

  10. I just gave one example & referred to all the others that came in the 2nd half of the sentence, and even so what part was untrue?? And the only reason the puritans came here was because most in europe would not tolerate their crap being shoved down other peoples throats.

  11. It was 1623. The Thirty Years War and the Dutch War for Independence (otherwise known as the Eighty Years War) were raging in Europe, both of them fundamentally between Catholics and Protestants. That is, most of Europe was all for shoving whatever crap they subscribed to down other peoples’ throats, at the point of a musket.

    The Non-conformists who came to Massachusetts were rather mild as seventeenth century religious attitudes go. Their chief beef was that they didn’t want to be forced to go to the established Church of England, which was too reminiscent of Roman Catholicism for their taste. “Non-conformists”, meaning anyone who didn’t attend CofE services, were given a rough time in England in those days. In fact, they were not “Puritans”, who wanted to “purify” the CofE of these vestiges of Rome. Rather, they were “Separatists”, who wanted to remove themselves from it entirely. They weren’t all for going to war with their neighbours, they just wanted to be as far apart from them as possible.

    They weren’t angels, mind, and they didn’t live up to their own ideals, for sure. But compared to the Spanish record in America, they come off rather well.

  12. One needs to exercise caution when invoking La leyenda negra.

    For an interesting take from the UHP: La Leyenda Negra:
    Old Views of the New World

  13. Forgive me, Megalonyx. When I said there’s only one human species on Earth, I somehow forgot about you.

  14. @ Our Curmudgeon: Indeed. In any evolving population, there has to be one brave pioneer who valiantly takes the next step in improved overall fitness.

    It’s really no wonder that Olivia can’t keep her hands to herself in my company….

  15. We come in peace!
    Shoot to kill….

  16. If you want to read a 600 pg book about it:
    Storms brewed in other Mens Land’s

    About the interaction among the native americans and the spanish, french and americans.