Sapiens: A Brief History of Human Kind by Yuval Noah Harari

These are some take-aways I wrote down for Sapiens: A Brief History of Human Kind by Yuval Noah Harari. Also, I recommend his other book, Homo Deus.

  • A species is a group of animals that tend to breed with each other.  
  • A species that evolved from a common ancestor are known as a genus. Lions tigers, leopards, and jaguars are different species within the genus panthera.
  • For the last 10,000 years Homo Sapiens have been the only human species around
  • Humans first evolved in east africa about 2.5 million years ago from genus of apes called Australopithecus which means southern ape.
  • Humans in Europe and western Asia evolved into homo neanderthalensis (man from the neander valley) also known as neanderthals. They were strong and larger.
  • Eastern regions of Asia had homo erectus, who survived for close to 2 million years,
  • Homo floresiensis reached a maximum height of only one meter and weighed more than 25 kilos., but they were able to produce stone tools and even occasionally to hunt dwarf elephants.
  • Domestication of fire and using fire was a major milestone in the process of becoming man. Homo sapiens no longer had to chew as long on their food, and could more quickly consume calories, which was important for their large brain.
  • Most apex predators are majestic
  • It’s not immediately obvious that having a large brain was actually helpful in evolution. It required lots of calories, and for many thousands of years, sapiens weren’t the dominate species despite their brains. Sapiens were such recently underdogs in the natural world, and as a result we’re full of anxieties over our position and fear, which makes us cruel and dangerous. Many historical calamities, wars, and catastrophes have resulted from the hasty jump to the top of the food chain.
  • There are two theories of what happened to the other homo species, one interbreeding theory, where sapiens spread into Neanderthal lands and bred with neanderthals until the two populations merged. If this is true, today’s eurasians are not pure sapiens, but instead a mixture of sapiens and neanderthals, and likely the same happened with sapiens and erectus in east Asia.
  • The opposite view, replacement theory is more the tory of sapiens dominating other species. In this theory they likely had very little sexual interest in one another. The two populations remained completely distinct. Sapiens replaced all the previous species, or killed them. And all humans can be traced back to east africa 70,000 years ago.


  • Languages is not unique. Every animal has some sort of language
  • One theory is that our language is supple, a limited number of sounds and signs can produce an infinite number of sentences.
  • A second theory says that we mostly needed to talk about other humans, not lions and bison. Who is sleeping with whom. Who is honest, who is a cheat.
  • People can work together on large scale thanks to stories. One catholic may work together with another due to a common belief that god was flesh and died for their sins. Fellow country men can fight together for a belief in their own country. Pugot can have many thousands of employees work together thanks to the story that they are a company, thought that is all fiction.
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