Are we Reptiles or Mammals?

Stephen Hawking in his (one of the) best book(s) A Brief History of Time, mentions that our world was once occupied by Reptiles in shape of giant dinosaurs centuries ago. Slowly and gradually, their kingdom was taken over by Mammals in shape of human beings. He then asks what could be the reason. Well, there could be many but Hawking suggests that it was due to the fact that Mammals pass knowledge to their next generations whereas Reptiles don’t. He further notes that Reptiles would leave their eggs beneath sand and when a child is born, it is without any parents and community. Thus a danger leading to death is not in the knowledge of the new born and if the same threat that killed it’s parents comes it’s way, the new born can also be gone. Compare this to mammals who nurture the new born in a family, spend lot of time in the community and thus impart the knowledge of that generation. Hawking notes that this transfer of knowledge from one generation to other is what has leaded the human race to reach the heights that we see now. The great influx of innovations in later 20th century and continuing into the 21st century is due to the knowledge gained in all the previous centuries.

(Note: these are my words explaining the concept and are not exact quotes from the book. Also note that Hawking is more known as a scientist but we need to get more from him on philosophy. Those who separate Science from Philosophy, are you listening? J )


(original photo at: )

OK, long story but what it means to us the testers?

If you are a senior Tester, do you pass on all knowledge that you possess to the new comers? Do you take time to teach them the history of the product/project, the test plans, the big defect database, the failures, the success stories… all pages from history. That knowledge is very important.

If you are the new born in a Testing team, do you see yourself living in Reptiles who fled after burying the egg in the sand? You come out and the whole world is against you? Or you see a mammal family to take care of your early days.

What other attributes of Mammals we should be adapting to become better at what ever we do?



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13 responses to “Are we Reptiles or Mammals?”

  1. Raza Ul Haq Akif says :

    This phenomena not only applies to testing but in every aspect of life.

    If I talk specifically about Software Development, this is also valid there. If you are not knowledgable developer, you will not be able to foresee the impact of your code on the software project.


  2. alidee62 says :

    A point well made. However, I was under the impression that a cataclysmic event caused the dinosaurs to die out over a relatively short space of time leaving a power vacuum into which the mammals moved and then evolved into the complex beings we are today.

    One of the factors leading to the success of human beings to this day has been team working which as we all know requires both verbal and non-verbal communication. And in today’s working environment I believe emotional intelligence plays a big part.


    • majd says :

      You are right that there are many theories on what happened in early days of earth, and any of them can be true. And thanks for bringing up the communication and emotional intelligence into picture as Mammals do that too. It is amazing how non-verbal communication plays a role in passing of knowledge.


  3. Ather Imran says :

    It is remarkable how much we professionals can learn from the mother nature and its phenomenons. And I believe we have done a good job overall in deriving such lessons. However, there are more out there and we can always have a ‘naturalist’ tilt to our studies. Good extraction and post!



    • majd says :

      Agreed Ather. The time we spend blaming the Mother Nature for doing some things wrong, ought to be spent on understanding things it does right. I’m glad that you liked it.


  4. HH says :

    That’s an excellent post and the linking is very useful and valid. In this case, your ‘family’ can really make you love or hate your job. But I agree that this can be applied to other scearios and not just limited to testing.


    • majd says :

      Thanks Huma and I’m glad that you liked it. You are correct in suggesting that this simple rule of “Build the family” and you can do wonders at any knowledge workplace, can be applied at any level.


  5. Muhammad Faisal Nadeem says :

    @”Slowly and gradually, their kingdom was taken over by Mammals in shape of human beings.”

    I don’t know the above statement is present in book of Stephen Hawking or it is twisted by author because scientifically the age of Reptile is changed to the age of Mammals instantly. All scientists are agree dinosaurs extincted suddenly. George Gaylord Simpson, one of the biggest evolutionary authorities in the 20th century makes the following comment…

    “The most puzzling event in the history of life on earth is the change from the Mesozoic, the Age of Reptile, to the Age of Mammals. It is as if the curtain were rung down suddenly on the stage where all the leading roles were taken by reptiles, especially dinosaurs, in great numbers and bewildering variety, and rose again immediately to reveal the same setting but an entirely new cast, a cast in which the dinosaurs do not appear at all, other reptiles are supernumeraries, and all the leading parts are played by mammals of sorts barely hinted at in the preceding acts.”

    Kingdom of reptiles or dinosaur finished due to some major catastrophes or horrendous climactic changes or any other reason. All of these demonstrate that mammals also appeared on Earth suddenly and fully formed, without any ancestors. This is concrete evidence of the fact that they were created by God and knowledge about how to live in earth is decoded in our DNA.


    • majd says :

      Thanks Faisal for your thoughts. I am no expert on the early times of universe and earth, so what you say can be correct also.

      The takeaway from this is that we as Mammals need to nurture new entrants to our teams; which I hope you agree to.


  6. Maria Mukhtar says :

    Very well written !!


  7. ffahad61 says :

    Testers are reptiles when they join a firm (i mean born) on mistake all guns in company start blazing on them 🙂 .


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