Image by Willfried Wende from Pixabay

These days, the deep flaws of humanity are on full display.

Look at the news for just a couple days and you'd concluded that inept leadership, chaotic conflict, disinformation efforts, and environmental violence would appear to be the primary indicators of humanity.

But humanity has its upsides.

When we zoom out and consider the entirety of the human race's accomplishments, we encounter startling examples of ingenuity, courage, and even social connection.

It can be a good exercise to reflect on the amazing feats of our human ancestors. So many things about our current circumstances are owed to the ideas of people hundreds and even thousands of years ago.

ifitwasonlytrue asked, "What did our ancestors do that still blows your mind?"

With a Pinch of Salt

"The Romans with their cement, and the fact that it took so many years for us to realize that when they said water in their recipe they meant seawater." -- Krazypsychic

"Honestly that's more on us. Their entire empire bordered the Mediterranean. Of course they'd use the water from that." -- Terramagi

"And the fact that they developed underfloor heating. Wizardry!" -- Pangolingolin

Think of All the Crevices!

"Cartography. How in the f*** did people draw full continents based solely on sailing the sea? I can't fathom the effort it took to map something like Greenland." -- jtbcorndog

"Yes on all that. Some dude even drew the underparts of Antarctica back before we had high-tech mapping. Not sure how." -- i_like_sp1ce

A Sixth Sense for Water Movements?

"The Polynesians sailed across the Pacific and settled Hawaii eight hundred years ago. Somehow they figured that there was land in the middle of nowhere, and figured out how to make it there." -- zeteo_galeneian

"I was just reading about this. They followed birds migrating. But man, just get in the boat and head out to... unknown!" -- Lbdon1959

"Arguably the greatest explorers of all time. Whichever group of humans makes their way to a new star system would likely be the next time anyone accomplishes such an incredible feat." -- alexm42

Intuitive, But Horrifying

"Cut holes in their skulls for fun or to cure headaches. And many survived." -- wastingtoomuchthyme

"Honestly still get tempted to try this when I get a migraine...." -- languageofsarcasm

"Don't forget trans orbital lobotomies. They just shoved an ice pick into the space behind your eyeball and flicked it around to cure mental illnesses."

"Of course success was pretty random but the fact that they didn't just ALL end up with mashed potatoes for brains is pretty impressive imo." -- ReasonableBeep

Shrinking the Universe with Mathematics

"Map the movement of stars and planets to a startling degree of accuracy." -- Idreamnolonger

"Similarly, old civilizations were able to find out that a year is exactly 365 days and 6 hours. The accounting for leap years has always blown my mind." -- Justice-Gorsuch

"Well without light pollution and some curiosity, it's amazing what humans can do." -- cowboy4life

Quite the Start

"In my ancestors tribe, boys would have to do all this to be considered a 'man':"

"-Go meditate in a small circle in the middle of the wild for a week with no food and minimal water"

"-Hallucinate a spirit guide animal"

"-Tell the trusted medicine man what animal you saw"

"-Dig a hole with straw and leaves and a dead animal on top"

"-Sit for a few days waiting for an eagle to land on the animal"

"-Catch the eagle with your hands and break its neck"

"-Give the feathers to a shield maker to make you your first shield"

"This is just step one of many"

-- MusicTravelWild

Thank God for This

"Discovered that many foods taste better when you add fire." -- randomguy1972

"Fire also made things easier to digest." -- fungeoneer

"And doesn't give you massive explosive diarrhea, i assure you dingle berries motivated many great evolutionary and technological hurdles, e.g. razor" -- Cronerburger

Little By Little

"Pretty much every known edible and poisonous plant was the result of ancient trial and error." -- julianwolf

"I read somewhere that the way that native Americans did it at least, was whenever they traveled somewhere new and didn't know if a plant was safe to eat they would have a young healthy man or woman take small samples at first."

"Usually started with just rubbing it on their skin, then they would chew it a lil bit and spit it out. Then they'd eat just a little bit and wait. Eat a little more and wait."

"Then eat a lot and see what happens."

"This is smart bc if it was harmful but didn't leave a rash they wouldn't get too sick from eating just a little bit. (Unless of course it was deadly af, and in that case at least only one person died instead of the whole tribe.)" -- Chef_Zed

Pushing Through

"Survive what for most species would be certain extinction."

"96% of the population died around 100 thousand years ago in an ice age, and we still managed to live with barely 10,000 people!"

-- SongofRolland

Isolated Agreement

"How they all, at some point, discovered the bow."

"Even with no connections to other continents, they all figured out a piece of string connected to two ends of a piece of wood could make arrows fly farther."

-- Yoozelezz_AF

Tough Choices

"Cheese, wtf?? Who the hell thought that consuming moldy cow juice that sat in a container for months would be fine?" -- enricofermi5784

"Starving people. Food wasn't always as easy to get as it is now."

"I have a feeling that's how most fermented foods were discovered. People took a chance on eating rotten food vs. starving to death." -- whatever--this-means


"Greeks were able to estimate pi and figure out its irrationality (though you'd be basically removed from civic circles if you suggested as much) 2000+ years ago without any sort of calculator." -- Libreska

"You're probably thinking of Phi, not Pi. The golden ratios irrationality was discovered by Pythagorean who was (perhaps apocryphally) promptly thrown off a cliff into the sea for proving that the most beautiful ratio was irrational and therefore impure." -- Adventure_Time_Snail

Can't Go Without a Melody

"The oldest known flute is dated 42-44,000 years ago."

"I feel like it's safe to assume that the voice and percussion were our first musical instruments, but the fact that people were carving flutes out of animal bones so long ago has always blown my mind."

-- crapinet

Game Changer

"Agriculture. Like, damn. What a huge win. You mean we don't have hunt and gather anymore? The years of observation and experimentation it must have taken to figure it out is crazy to me."

"Thanks, ancestors."

-- Billi_Pilgrim

Feelin Strong One Day

"Manage to build Stonehenge."

"What kind of substance was available back then that motivated so many groups of people to drag tons of rock hundreds of miles only to prop em up in a circle and leave."

-- gabbureddits

A Horrifying Amount of Time to Reflect

"Keep themselves entertained throughout the day. No phones, no TV, no computers, no books even, no music. Surely there's only a set amount of tasks and jobs to do on an everyday basis."

"Then what? Talk to your family the remaining hours of the day? Sit in silence? Sleep?"

-- UniqueVeryUsername1

One Thing Led to Another

"Found a plant, watched it grow fruit. Took the pit out of that fruit, cooked it over fire. Then took the cooked pits, smashed them all up really tiny, poured hot water over them, and drank it."

"And then discovered that this magic potion gives the drinker energy."

-- BeckyBlueEyes

Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.

There is a world full of mysteries to explore right at our very feet.

Do we engage with it on a level that might make us more uncomfortable? Well, if we really want to learn everything there is to know about our planet earth, we have to engage in the unsettling facts. They appear across every discipline.

Keep reading... Show less

Let's be honest, most of us don't read the Terms and Conditions before we click that little "I Agree" button. Most of you probably aren't even going to read this intro.

A huge chunk of you are going to open this article and immediately scroll to "the meat" because we're all about getting to the good stuff. But that rush can sometimes mean missing out on some seriously important tidbits of info.

Keep reading... Show less
Image by RitaE from Pixabay

Death is scary. It brings the unknown of the great beyond, whether that's heaven, some other afterlife, or total nothingness, depending on what you believe.

But there is one perk that comes with death: total control of your funeral.

Keep reading... Show less
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

After we've watched a movie, it can be difficult to imagine the film as a project that took months or years to finally culminate into the product we see at the theater or on our television.

But it was built and hacked together, piece by piece.

Keep reading... Show less