What was it like to live among giants?

by phil on Sunday Nov 27, 2011 3:16 PM

(From the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens)

Recently, I found myself staring in wonderment at these large horses made of leaves. It reminded me of being a child, feeling like a dwarf in the land of giants. It also reminded me that our ancestors lived among giant animals, and most likely rode horses as large as the ones I was looking at.

Here's bones of another giant animal our ancestors lived among:

(mega sloth bones from North America)

Which got me thinking, that a large arc of human history was about the destruction of giants. We spent much of our evolutionary history over-hunting large animals to extinction. We started out living in fear of the large ones, only to then develop tools and know-how to destroy them. This continued to the point until humans were finally in charge of the animal kingdom.

But recently, starting from around the invention of farming 10,000 years ago, we have found ourselves again in the land of giants. We've created structures and machines much larger than us. We've created societies and governments that have the power to destroy us at their will. Whereas before we were concerned about giant sloths or mammoths trampling our terrain, we are now afraid of cars hitting us or our infrastructure (electricity, sewage) breaking down and crippling us.

Which makes me wonder, will we ever again be the biggest kid on the block? Will the individual ever feel totally self-posessed? Was that period when there were no giants above humans just a transitory period of dominance on the way to us being forever dominated by our own creations?

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