Humans There are a variety of characteristics about

Humans are unique and
complex beings who have conquered and changed the world. From building the
astonishing pyramids of Egypt, to inventing efficient cars and railroads, to
sending people to the moon, humans have reached great heights. However, from
time to time we have to reflect on our roots and ask ourselves, what really
makes us human? There are a variety of characteristics about us that define us,
essentially however, what makes us human is our bipedalism, our ability to use
language and express ourselves, and last but not least, our advanced brain.

                                                    
Firstly, one of the most significant characteristics that make us human
is our bipedalism, the ability to walk upright on two legs which our ancestors
developed more than four million years ago.  “Bipedalism
allowed hominids to free their arms completely, enabling them to make and use
tools efficiently, stretch for fruit in trees and use their hands for social
display and communication.”(Meldrum) writes Jeffrey Meldrum in his book ‘From
Biped to Strider’. This shows us that this trait is essential to humans
and was the very essence of our physical development, providing us with
numerous advantages which helped us to survive and become what we are today. These
advantages include picking things up, holding and carrying things, throwing
things, and seeing from a higher vantage point; having developed legs also led
to us standing upright which allowed us to travel easily without consuming too
much energy. Although other animals can also walk on two legs, human bipedalism
is distinct because no other species can balance themselves or run as humans
can due to their bipedalism.
“Bipedal locomotion sets modern humans apart from all other living primates… A
large number of anatomical features are functionally related to bipedal
locomotion, and it is the combination of these traits that allows this to be
the unique form of locomotion in modern humans.”(Harcourt?Smith). This
indicates that bipedalism is highly advanced in humans as it involves the legs,
hips and spine which form this type of locomotion that other species do not
possess. Thus, it is evident that bipedalism is the foundation of how
physically capable we are today and how different we are from other species
because of this useful trait.

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Our ability to use language and emotionally express ourselves is another
vital characteristic that makes us human beings. Fundamentally, humans are
social creatures who have thrived because of interaction, collaboration and
communication with each other, language and expression is the basis of all of
this. Emil Cioran, a Romanian philosopher once said “One does not inhabit
a country, one inhabits a language. That is our country, our fatherland – and no
other.” This quote is highlighting the importance of language, from the moment
we are born we express our emotions, and as we grow, it is not our country that
defines us, it is the words we speak using our language that define us, what
make us human. We present our thoughts and exchange ideas through these
structured words we call language, this is what defines us as humans and
enables us to grow further collectively. This point connects to Charles Winick’s
‘Dictionary of Anthropology’ where he describes language as “a system of arbitrary vocal symbols, used to express
communicable thoughts and feelings and enabling the members of a social group
or speech community to interact and to co-operate.”(Winick). Make no
mistake, other animals communicate as well, however, it is our method of
communication that makes us distinct. Whales sing to each other, monkeys cry out,
wolves howl, but it is our method of communication and expression which is way
more advanced, as we use ‘a system of arbitrary vocals’ as explained by Charles
Winick. Therefore, it is apparent that the way we humans communicate through
specific languages and vividly express our emotions explains why we are unique.

                                                       Lastly, the extraordinary
human brain is our most pivotal feature and is the main reason why we are the
most intelligent, imaginative, and progressive species on earth. Unquestionably,
without our brains we would not be humans as it quite literally runs our body,
controlling muscle movements, regulating our breathing, managing our perceptual
sets, etc; however, this is common in most species. We have to look beyond this
and examine why our brain is so unique and ultimately, how it makes us who we
are. The human brain uses up to twenty percent of the body’s energy and contains
100 billion brain cells called neurons which function in complex neuron networks.
Our cerebrum is the largest and most developed portion of the brain which is
responsible for controlling memory, understanding, and logic. This connects to
the book “Social Science, An Introduction” where it explains, “The left cerebral
hemisphere is responsible for communication, logic and mathematical abilities…while
the right cerebral hemisphere handles recognition and visual imagery.”(Ryerson).
Human beings can combine these functions which allows us to use intricate
patterns of thinking and behaviour. While it is true that sperm whales have
larger brains than humans and dolphins have a larger brain to body ratio than
humans, however, in an article, Bradford G. Schleifer wrote, “It has been
recognized that the physical characteristics of the human brain do not warrant
the extreme creative and processing power that defines human ingenuity”(Schleifer).
Ultimately, it is our marvelous brain which provides us with self-consciousness,
with the understanding that we have a purpose in life, with the ability to
adapt with our surroundings, with morals that help us determine what is right
or wrong, with endless amounts of creativity and imagination, and with the
desire for worship and love. These are the qualities which are absent in all
other species and these are the qualities which essentially make us what we
are, humans.

In conclusion,
we human beings are indeed extremely unique and complex beings who have truly reached
great heights such as creating the astonishing pyramids in Egypt, inventing
efficient cars and railroads, sending people to the moon, and many more. How
exactly did we humans achieve this though? Well, we simply used what makes us human.
Our bipedalism which gave us the physical abilities to carry out our work, our
language and expression which helped us communicate with each other and
exchange spectacular ideas, and lastly our brains which provided us with endless
amounts of creativity and logical thinking. As long as we remain faithful to
our human nature, who knows what we may accomplish in the future.