For Homo sapiens, like most species, surviving life on Earth isn’t exactly easy. But thankfully, and importantly, we’re not in it alone.

For thousands of years, modern humans have been developing mutually beneficial relationships with other species, from dogs and cats to bacteria and breadfruit. These interactions have allowed our different life forms to evolve and flourish together, and even cross the globe. These relationships are examples of ‘mutualistic’ coevolution, which happens when multiple species affect each other’s progress for the better over time.

They’re also a key part of what physician, medical geographer, and AIMS Institute co-founder Dr. Sunil K. Aggarwal calls humankind’s “evolutionary garden” — the collection of plants, fungi, and animal secretions that people have cultivated since prehistory, and carried around the world, because of their particular usefulness for human health and survival as food, medicine, clothing, or other vital supplies.

Most are still embraced today, from honey and grains to caffeine and aspirin. In the past century, however, some cultures have decided it’s a good idea to cordon off certain areas of that garden, despite a long evolutionary history — and current scientific data — saying otherwise.

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