It's been fun "debating" Gabriel, but I need some uplifting fluffy stuff to get over the frustration of trying to teach a guy that science doesn't come from DNA. It comes from knowledge and hard work. Before the Wright Brothers could build an airplane, they needed to live in a society that had knowledge of woodworking and specialized members devoted to the task. The same for textiles, the creation of combustion engines, Otto Lilenthal to work out some of the early stuff for them, and so on and so on and so on. On top of that, the division of labor required knowledge of agriculture and a stock of plants able to efficiently produce nourishment that could be processed by the human digestive tract in a manner more efficient than nomadic hunting and gathering, and also be amendable to breeding to survive in a large collection of environments.
So, now that I've listed off all that stuff, the topic for the thread is this: List underrated or seemingly irrelevant discoveries/ideas/practices that were prerequisites for today's technologies that we take for granted. The human pyramid of scientific progress wouldn't have gotten far without some of those giants and even little people at the base. They deserve their kudos.
One of the great beginning technologies I'll start off with is a primal idea that helped kickstart the whole "civilization" thing: Division of labor. "Hey, I'll hunt, you gather, and you over there, see if you can figure out if any of these plants can be useful in unexpected ways."