Being able to self-regulate our emotions and our behaviors is a large part of what makes us human.
-John Cacioppo (2008), Social Neuroscientist
In the early 1960's part being human meant, among other things, being able to use tools. That theory, debunked by etymologist Jane Goodall's observations of wild chimpanzees, is no longer part of the "what makes us human" list. Today's list is focused on two main, apparently only human, attributes: Our extremely complex social systems and our ability to regulate our emotions. Yet, this new short list also begs editing.
Yes, we are socially complex, you may say. But aren't bees and ants extremely socially organized as well? They are. But they exhibit no where near our level of social interconnectedness. So, I guess, our humanness requires a certain of degree of complexity, a certain societal tipping point that occurred long ago and eventually led to the formation of the modern human brain.
But how about the emotion control point? You probably know at least one person who is frequently "out of control" emotionally. Are the emotionally volatile less human? Of course not. So, can you really make a list to define humanness? I think so, but not quite yet. Neuroscience is still in its infancy as a science and the human brain is not yet fully understood. One thing is clear, humans have huge brains and therein lie the differences between us and them.