Primatology

The Primate Diaries

Category archives for Primatology

SUNY-Binghampton evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson currently has a response to my review “Survival of the Kindest” up at Seedmagazine.com. In his response he suggests that Dawkinsian critics such as Frans de Waal and Joan Roughgarden have adopted a group selection perspective in all but name: Rejecting group selection was wrong. The rejection of group…

Heracles battles Death for generosity’s sake / Frederic Lord Leighton (1869-71) Whereas great scientific theories stand the test of time when they accurately predict the natural world through repeated empirical trials, great literature transcends the ages when it speaks to universal qualities of human experience. Such inspirational works can also, without the authors realizing at…

Bonobos “Red in Tooth and Claw”

As part of the series of reposts leading up to my review of Frans de Waal’s newest book The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society I present the third of three pieces that appeared after Ian Parker’s 2007 article “Swingers” appeared in The New Yorker. In my earlier pieces “Bonobo (Re)Visions” as…

Bonobos and the Politics of Human Nature

Bonobos often adopt a “missionary” posture during copulation (photograph by Frans de Waal). As part of the series of reposts leading up to my review of Frans de Waal’s newest book The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society I present the second of three pieces that appeared after Ian Parker’s 2007 article…

Bonobo (Re)Visions

As part of the series of reposts leading up to my review of Frans de Waal’s newest book The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society I present the first of three pieces that appeared after Ian Parker’s 2007 article “Swingers” appeared in The New Yorker. As expected, the apologists for unreason who…

The Evolution of Morality

Darwin evicts a Social Darwinist and Eugenicist from his house / Northwestern Univ. Primatologist Frans de Waal, author of such classic works as Chimpanzee Politics, Peacemaking Among Primates, Good Natured: The Origin of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals, and Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape is now coming out with his new book The…

Benjamin Franklin once quipped, “Where there’s marriage without love there will be love without marriage.” His affairs are well known in American history, however this founding father may have been stating a truth extending to evolutionary history as well. Christopher Ryan (author of the forthcoming Sex at Dawn) offers some thoughts on the role of…

Primatologists Had it Coming

The Daily Show’s Jon Oliver investigates the question of whether humans are more closely related to orangutans or chimpanzees. The answer shouldn’t surprise you in the slightest (though it will be quite funny). The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c Human’s Closest Relative www.thedailyshow.com Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor…

Orangutans Play the Blues

John Hawks points to a news story showing that orangutans make musical instruments: When in a tight situation, the orangutans will strip the leaves off a twig and make a crude musical instrument to alter the calls they use to ward off predators — not exactly a Stradivarius, but it seems to get the job…

Why Chimpanzees Make Bad Suicide Bombers

The Evolution of Spite is the Evil Twin of Altruism Someone walks into a crowded restaurant, looks about the diners calmly, and blows themselves up as well as everyone nearby. Why? This is a scenario that forces us to explain the dark side of human nature. Why do humans have a capacity for such hate…