The Dragons Of Eden: Speculations On The Evolution Of Human Intelligence
The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence is a 1977 book by Carl Sagan, in which the author combines the fields of anthropology, evolutionary biology, psychology, and computer science to give a perspective on how human intelligence may have evolved.
The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
Sagan discusses the search for a quantitative means of measuring intelligence. He argues that the brain to body mass ratio is an extremely good correlative indicator for intelligence, with humans having the highest ratio and dolphins the second highest, though he views the trend as breaking down at smaller scales, with some small animals (ants in particular) placing disproportionately high on the list. Other topics mentioned include the evolution of the brain (with emphasis on the function of the neocortex in humans), the evolutionary purpose of sleep and dreams, demonstration of sign language abilities by chimps and the purpose of mankind's innate fears and myths. The title "The Dragons of Eden" is borrowed from the notion that man's early struggle for survival in the face of predators, and in particular a fear of reptiles, may have led to cultural beliefs and myths about dragons.
In chapter 2, Sagan briefly summarizes the entire evolution of species starting from the Big Bang to the beginning of the human civilization with the help of a "Cosmic Calendar", an analogy where one year in the calendar corresponds to the time since the Big Bang. Sagan used the same analogy in the more-widely known television series Cosmos.
The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence is a Pulitzer prize winning 1977 book by Carl Sagan. In it, he combines the fields of anthropology, evolutionary biology, psychology, and computer science to give a well balanced perspective of how human intelligence evolved.One of the main issues featured in the book is the search for a quantitative way of measuring intelligence. Sagan shows that the brain to body mass ratio is an extremely good indicator, with humans having the highest and dolphins second. It does break down, however, at the extremely small end of the scale. Because a certain minimum size is needed to sustain life, smaller creatures (ants in particular) place disproportionally high on the list.
Dr. Carl Sagan takes us on a great reading adventure, offering his vivid and startling insight into the brain of man and beast, the origin of human intelligence, the function of our most haunting legends--and their amazing links to recent discoveries.