A primary assumption of the evolutionary model behind neo-Darwinism is that development can be traced back through a series of subtly incremental changes. At what for our purposes is the terminus of all these changes there emerges, voila, the world as we know it.
There are certain things it should not be taken to imply. It does not imply that a species carries forward an essential similarly to its ancestors. A bird is not a latter-day dinosaur. Whatever the shared genetic history of beast and bird, a transformative change occurred over the millennia, and to find the modern sparrow implicit in the thunder lizard is quite certainly an error.
On the same grounds, there is no reason to assume our species resembles in any essential way that ancient primates whose genes we carry. It is a strategy of parascientific argument to strip away culture-making, as if it were a ruse and a concealment within which lurked the imagined primitive who is for them our true nature. ~ American writer Marilynne Robinson
▫ Modest alteration in the hominin intelligence system unleashed freer abstraction ability. Abetted by a precision hand grip, this begat greater engineering skill and advancing technology.
▫ Awe of Nature naturally inspired spirituality. From this primal mental rattle myths of supernatural gods, abetting social dominance regimes, birthed religion. Loosening the mind from its moorings to actuality enabled both creative industry and nonsense belief systems.
▫ What drove hominin evolution mentally was sociality by means of greater communicability, especially spoken language.
▫ In areas of natural abundance, small bands of hunter-gathers came together and settled into sedentary societies. The transition from foraging to farming radically changed the relationship between humans and their habitat, and among themselves as territoriality took hold.
▫ Economic materialism arose as a sense of appreciative value ascribed to objects. With sedentism came a stronger sense of possession, with land itself considered as owned. The concept of private property became the most powerful motivating force in human history.
▫ Burgeoning populations forced Neolithic communities to concentrate in river valleys where natural resources were most abundant. This gave rise to the Egyptian, Sumerian, and Harappan civilizations that flourished along major rivers, such as the Nile, Euphrates, Tigris, and Indus.
▫ Social order was increasingly enforced. Political regimes hardened and socioeconomic castes became canonical. The militaristic territoriality of the earliest civilizations endures with the plutocratic dominance and police-state subjection in modern human societies under capitalism. The schemes change but the essentials remain.