Big Babies Are the Reason Humans Aren't Animals

Primate BabiesFile this under Fun Facts for Cocktail Parties: Human babies are bigger, proportionally, than babies of other species, and that might be why we formed societies.

Come on, that’s cool! Our big ol' helpless babies are directly responsible for Times Square!


You’ve surely noticed that when it comes to childbirth and newborn-wrangling, other species seem to have it down. Kangaroos “give birth” to an embryo that sits in a pouch till it can hop away on its own -- no midwife needed. Horse-babies (okay, foals) stand right up on those spindly little legs. Even other primate babies know enough to grab on tight the moment they’re born, so they can be whooshed up into the trees for safety.

Compared to other primates, in fact, human labor is longer, more difficult, and more hazardous. And human babies are about 6 percent of their mother’s size, as opposed to 3 percent for the rest of the hominids.

You’d think this would doom us to early extinction. I mean, basically, we lay big, screaming, helpless eggs that we have to stay on the ground to care for. Luckily for us, these big babies coincided with enough common sense to split up into a camping-and-baby-caring group, and a hunting-gathering group.

That may have been the beginning of human society: villages, cities, and country clubs, according to a researcher who was studying some of our very earliest ancestors.

Hey, it’s just a theory, but as theories go, it’s a cool one -- right? At least it’s a good thing to tell yourself when you’ve got Bjorn-induced shoulder ache.

Do you think big babies were a factor in creating our society?

Image via jinterwas/Flickr

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