sapiensA long time ago I worked on the Space Shuttle program. We had weekly meetings using overhead projectors in a darkened meeting room.

During one of these meetings while looking around the room at the older guys, it dawned on me that they’d all worked on the Apollo program. It was a prideful recognition – here was my tribe and they’d put men on the moon.

I didn’t know them really. I guessed that they were probably putting in their time until they retired. A few of them were star performers and the others more likely drones. But they were all Sapiens and had contributed to something big.

Here’s what stirred up that memory. I’ve been reading a book called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. The book is about how we, Homo Sapiens, came to dominate the planet, for better or worse.

Along the way, he covers our brother and sisters in the genus “Homo” who didn’t make it, but live on, in a small way, because researchers are finding that all  non-Africans have a little bit of Neanderthal DNA.

The same is true for the genes of Denisovan Man. Denisovan genes have been found in modern Sapiens too.

Sapiens left Africa around 70,000 years ago and covered a lot of ground. Researchers suspect that Neanderthals and Denisovans weren’t the only extinct members of the Homo genus we interbred with.

Sapiens the book knits together the pieces of our ancestry that are becoming clearer with new research techniques.

It’s a fascinating story of evolution about early timid humanlike creatures who morphed into the most dominating creature on the earth.  It’s story well told.