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True   Likely   Speculative
Human Uniqueness Compared to "Great Apes": 
Relative Difference
Human Universality: 
Individual Universal (All Individuals Everywhere)
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While dancing in and of it self is not uniquely human, the reasons that humans dance may be very different from those of apes or other animals. Examples include dancing to show expression and coordinating dance to music. Moreover, it is quite common for humans to dance without an express purpose. 


Timing of appearance of the difference in the Hominin Lineage as a defined date or a lineage separation event. The point in time associated with lineage separation events may change in the future as the scientific community agrees upon better time estimates. Lineage separation events are defined in 2017 as:

  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and old world monkeys was 25,000 - 30,000 thousand (25 - 30 million) years ago
  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and chimpanzees was 6,000 - 8,000 thousand (6 - 8 million) years ago
  • the emergence of the genus Homo was 2,000 thousand (2 million) years ago
  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and neanderthals was 500 thousand years ago
  • the common ancestor of modern humans was 100 - 300 thousand years ago

Possible Appearance: 
2,000 thousand years ago
Probable Appearance: 
200 thousand years ago
Definite Appearance: 
11 thousand years ago
Background Information: 

Many animals display dancing behavior for different purposes, for example, birds of paradise use dancing to attract mates. Parrots in captivity can respond to rhythmic music by coordinated movement.  Some captive apes dance but the behavior has not been documented in their natural habitat. 

The Human Difference: 

Human dancing is a method of expressing joy or happiness and is an integral part of human life. Primitive human cave paintings depict dance like movement at times of prayer or war. In modern humans, dancing can be a source of entertainment and individual expression. 

Universality in Human Populations: 

The forms of dance may vary by culture but dancing itself is universal to all humans.

Mechanisms Responsible for the Difference: 

Human dance might have started by observing nature, which later integrated into cultural, religious, and entertainment purposes.  

Possible Selection Processes Responsible for the Difference: 

Dancing might be advantageous by driving cultural or clan integrity.

Occurrence in Other Animals: 

Coordinated dancing and recreational dancing is absent in other animals.

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Drumming True