A suite of unique physical and behavioral characteristics distinguishes Homo sapiens from other mammals. Three diagnostic human behaviors played key roles in human evolution: tool making, symbolic behavior and language, and the domestication of plants and animals. I focus here on a previously unrecognized fourth behavior, which I call the animal connection, that characterized the human lineage over the past 2.6 million years. I propose that the animal connection is the underlying link among the other key human behaviors and that it substantially influenced the evolution of humans.
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