Agustín Fuentes is a primatologist and biological anthropologist focusing largely on human and non-human primate interaction, pathogen transfer, communication, cooperation, and human social evolution. His most recent book is “The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional.”
How did Agustín begin studying anthropology? From an early age he loved trying to figure out what made people tick. By studying other primates and what human ancestors did, he came to find that we are creative and imaginative in ways people didn’t think we had the capacity for.
Agustín found that through innovation, collaboration and creativity learning happens. What are some examples of innovation from our ancestors? Fire is one of the most basic, yet amazing discoveries of our ancestors. No species on the planet, besides humans, use fire. Use of fire gave humans the opportunity to change the composition of materials to mold utility items, change food composition, and provide the opportunity to break the day and night cycle.
Collaboration can be seen in instances of warfare. Are we inherently violent? Yes. Humans have the capacity for intense violence. However, when studying warfare, it is all about collaboration and putting your life on the line for the greater good of the army – not about who has the most violent army. Collaboration is the bottom line in when it comes to winning a war.
Once people were able to convey information with language, huge advancements were able to happen in creativity. In the last 100,000 years or so art happened, and humans were able to convey imagination. Speech and hearing coincided with art and showcased our capacity for creativity. Michael and Agustín finish the podcast talking diversity. Throughout the ages, diversity has been the norm for humans. When you get outside of your bubble, and explore the world a little, you see first hand the immense differences in advancements and innovation throughout cultures.