Many scientists believe that the use of agriculture is the single most important development in human history. But why did people decide to abandon the hunter-and-gatherer lifestyle and embark on a drastic new way of life? Although Homo sapiens emerged as a distinct species more than 200,000 years ago, the domestication of plants and animals did not occur until a little over 16,000 years ago. Perhaps the most startling mystery is why domestication seems to have occurred independently in about nine areas of the world over a span of only 6,000 years, a historical blink of an eye. No theory yet proposed has satisfactorily explained how this amazing development could have occurred, seemingly by coincidence. Farming pioneers exerted a heavy influence on the development of modern cultures, and by studying the origins of agriculture, scientists hope to learn more about the advantages that early farmers gained over their hunter-gatherer neighbors. However, the transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer was not all smooth, and at least initially even resulted in several negatives, including longer hours of work, and, surprisingly, worse nutritional intake and an increase in disease, something that also led to a reduction in physical stature for early agriculturists. Clearly, farming was no picnic, and it appears that most hunter-gatherers living in the vicinity of early farmers consciously rejected agriculture for these reasons. Despite the difficult]ties, however, some of our ancestors nonetheless took the fateful step to adopt farming over hunting. Although various theories have arisen. there is a general consensus that the move was stimulated by a decrease in available food sources. At the end of the Pleistocene age, hunter-gatherers had to make do with second- and third-choice foods, since big game species were in decline. This meant relying on smaller game and also plant foods that required substantial preparation, including grinding, leaching, and soaking. People needed new skills and ways of organization to make the most of those food sources, and at the same time they came into contact with plants and animals that lent themselves to domestication. Interestingly, agriculture didn't begin in the world's most fertile areas, but in regions where species suited to domestication were native, allowing farmers to outcompete local hunter-gatherers. Farming expanded more rapidly along east-west axes than north-south axes, since locations at similar latitudes are more likely to share similar climates, day-lengths, and seasons. This allowed farmers to use the same domesticated plants and animals, and the same farming techniques. Early farmers moving to locations at vastly defilement latitudes, on the other hand, had to find ways to adapt their crops and livestock to the new climes, facing cold winters and short summers to the north, and hotter, often drier climates to the south. Plant and animal domestication is seen as a requirement for the rise of civilization and for the transformation of human demographics around the world. As we unlock the secrets about how domestication unfolded, we should gain a better understanding of the early foundations of our modern world.