Philobiblon: Animals and humans

Monday, March 07, 2005

Animals and humans

Barista reports on a fascinating experiment involving selection of Siberian foxes simple for friendliness, which has produced social intelligence within about 30 generations. (The foxes follow a human gesture and gaze to find food, something their "wild" cousins can't do.)

This might have implications for human evolution - if you became calmer, less aggressive, more friendly to others, then social intelligence might follow. It is a bit of a jump but it seems feasible to me.

I've read many books trying to imagine early communities of Homo sapiens sapiens (and indeed Neanderthals) and have always thought that those, such as Jean Auel's, that posit a basically co-operative society are far more believable than those the Hobbesian ones (eg the Gears People of the Wolf).

And indeed I believe that anthropological studies suggest that humans who live in small bands are very seldom physically violent.

* You'll never look at a bee in the same way again after this article.

Did you know that for many centuries it was believed that bees practiced "Christian chastity", and that Christopher Wren and John Evelyn together tried, and failed, to produce the perfect hive?


Blogger melinama said...

The problem is, the Siberians can decide what foxes mate. Humans, who get to choose their own mates, frequently go with the mean, bellicose, deceitful choice rather than the kind, low-key, dependable one. In the past I made this mistake myself. How we gonna get a mild race if the nice guys are already finishing last?

3/07/2005 01:34:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Well, we all make the odd mistake ... I tend to end up with the weak ones who want me to hold them up.

But I am reminded of a study, the details of which I unfortunately did not keep, which showed the traditional idea of men "sowing their wild oats" and hence getting lots of kids, was incorrect, and that men who stayed with one partner faithfully were actually more likely to produce offspring.

3/09/2005 01:09:00 pm  

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