Ask 10 people what makes humans human and you’ll probably get 10 different answers — and then some. From our biased perspective, it’s seemingly simple to come up with many qualities that define the human experience. We love, we laugh. We form deep personal bonds and complex societies. We use language to communicate, art to express ourselves and technology to accomplish complex tasks. As Aristotle pointed out, although we can often be irrational, we have the ability to reason. We formulate ideas, contemplate and test them, and draw conclusions about our world. We can reflect on our own lives and begin to imagine death.
But if we really want to be scrupulous (and we do at Science News), we would have to admit that very few of these qualities are sufficient to set us apart from all other organisms.