Guest Lecture: Dr Adam Rutherford

Dr Adam Rutherford, geneticist, presenter of Radio 4’s Inside Science and author of the bestselling A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, visited Sevenoaks School to share key ideas from his latest book, The Book of Humans: The Story of How We Became Us.

In a lively talk laced with humour, he revealed the intriguing behaviour of certain animals, and how this, when put in contrast with our own behaviour, can help us understand what makes us, as a species, distinctly human. Dr Rutherford subverted the idea that skills like art, pyrotechnics and tool making are unique to humans and elucidated some interesting foraging, sexual and defence behaviours that some animals have come to possess. Boxer crabs, for example, utilise sea anemones by holding them in their pincers as a deterrent against predators. 

Given the diverse, complex and sometimes shocking nature of animal behavioural traits, we as humans cannot claim exclusive rights to many skills, with the exception of cultural transmission, which remains a distinctly human attribute.

Megan Ng, Lower Sixth

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