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Female Chimps Seen Making, Wielding Spears (discovery.com)
205 points by curtis on Apr 17, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 99 comments

Excerpt from the article, "The researchers noted that female adult chimps made and used spears more often than adult males. The males relied more on their size and strength for hunting. Female chimps are almost always hindered by infants that ride on their backs or bellies, so spear hunting is far more effective for them than attempting to chase down prey."

Interesting. I wonder if female child ~~bearing~~ holding contributed to our move to bipedalism.

There is speculation that the baby sling did. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/history/prehistoric-...

TIL how long baby slings have been around.

"Before the invention of the baby sling, dated by Dr Taylor to at least 2.2 million years ago, when human ancestor head size suddenly began to increase, physically mature infants were more likely to survive, because caring for slower-developing immature ones was difficult, uneconomic and often dangerous. Mothers holding their infants were more vulnerable to attack from predators or other humans than those using baby slings. They were also less able to perform other more economically productive tasks.

Most importantly, the invention of the baby sling artificially lengthened human gestation, said Dr Taylor."

That all makes sense as a theory, but is this fact based on hard evidence or merely academic speculation?

2.2 million years is an awful long time ago, and I didn't think we had that much evidence about humans habits and culture dating back that long ago.

Exactly what happened roughly 2.2 million years a to explain this evolutionary change?

That's the thing. Most of the evolutionary theories about how something happened 2 or 200 million years ago are just on the level of speculation. That's one of my gripes about evolution ... the field attracts a lot of pseudoscience (such as evolutionary psychology) in the form of "explanations" for various phenomena we observe today, or how a transition happened.

The truth is no one actually knows, or can test most of the theories that seem like they MIGHT be true but could also be fanciful speculations by researchers. That something was found is a fact. How it got there is largely speculation, but I'm surprised how often these theories are taken seriously, not just by the public but by other scientists.

Real tests include statistical significance, like exploring the fossil record across continents, simultaneously corroborating the theories of continental drift and common descent. Allopatric speciation can be discovered this way. You need a bunch of data points or functions of them, that should be independent but are highly correlated. That is what supports a theory, in the Fischer sense.

Here is an example: horse fossils are found physically above t-rex fossils 99.9% of the time, and in the remaining cases, the rocks show evidence of upheaval in that area. Or, radiometric dating vs the superposition principle. If 99% of the data samples agree, that is extremely significant. That is how you prove theories.

You are mixing up proving the theory of evolution and using the theory to make speculations about the past. The speculations are only taken as seriously as the evidence they are based on. The last time you made a blog post you complained about the evolutionary psychology behind a loud female orgasm. I had to look it up for you that it is seen in other apes TODAY and since other things prove (with statistical accuracy) that we have a common descent with other apes, these speculations are viable.

Where is this supposed proof or strong evidence for the speculations? "Viable speculation" is not the standard in science for believing things to be true, and using them as a basis for conclusions.

I think the bigger mistake is to claim the invention of the baby sling caused our lengthened human gestation: it gives no selection pressure in favour of lengthening our gestation period, it merely removes a selection pressure against it.

Is the field of EP completely pseudoscience?

EP is obviously not completely pseudoscience, but it has a few global problems. It's often forced to test hypotheses about things that happened long ago, which is hard and can lead to weakly supported conclusions. It also adopts the conceptual framework of cognitive psychology, which can be a bit of a grab bag in terms of falsifiability because it is so heavily reliant on "indirect observation." Finally, it frequently deals in topics which are flashpoints for controversy, which invites unusually stringent examination and rejection from people with some personal or political or religious agenda.

Yeah, it also blunders around taking the status quo as something that has more evolutionary causes than cultural ones. And thereby ignoring eg: the patriarchy as a cultural system, and looking for explanations of its effects in genes.

In this it reminds me of the science of the early 20th century that took race as a mere fact, and tried to explain it.

This is similar to how human civilization formed. Areas of plentiful food have no need for farming or saving up food as wealth thus, it is only in places where food/resources are less plentiful did technological civilization develop.

Also, I've heard the theory (I don't know if it's true) that while Chinese invented porcelain and used it for containers (cups, plates, etc), Europeans never did, and ended up inventing glass instead (and windows, microscopes, telescopes, ...).

They talk about this on the British panel show Qi:


Telescopes were brought into Europe by Arabs living in what was then Iberia, Sicily and a few other places.

As well as many farming new technologies like irrigation for example.

Ok, it seems I got that wrong.

However I was right remembering that Arabs had something to do with optics, as the base findings trace back to Ibn al-Haytham (965).


Also just as general information for anyone curious about it, in the process I've found out a list of Arab inventions.


The Road Not Taken...


Huh, I just read this theory yesterday in Nation by Terry Pratchett. I'm going back and reading the few books of his I missed.

That's inaccurate. You should check out "guns, germs and steel".

That book illustrates one theory. What I stated is the theory taught to me as a student by the anthropology department at UCLA.


I take that back. I just read the synopsis on wikipedia. The books' theory is exactly inline with my statement.

"The first step towards civilization is the move from nomadic hunter-gatherer to rooted agrarian society. Several conditions are necessary for this transition to occur: 1) access to high protein vegetation that endures storage; 2) a climate dry enough to allow storage; 3) access to animals docile enough for domestication and versatile enough to survive captivity. Control of crops and livestock leads to food surpluses. Surplus frees people up to specialize in activities other than sustenance and supports population growth. The combination of specialization and population growth leads to the accumulation of social and technologic innovations which build on each other. Large societies develop ruling classes and supporting bureaucracies, which in turn lead to the organization of nation-states and empires."

There's an interesting set of forces when it comes to "early stage" innovation (imo). On the one hand what you say is true...sheer necessity forces innovation. On the other hand if there's plenty of food one can save food and use the time not spent hunting/gathering to invent/build new technology.

That's pretty much the economics point of view. Save+invest->innovation/technology. Catch a couple of fish, save them if possible. Use time not spend on catching fish to build a net...have more fish. Rinse, repeat.

That's probably why early civilization develloped in valleys of river that flooded.

In the Nile and Euphrate/Tigre valleys, there was plenty of food but efforts were required for storage. And one that was done, there was plenty of idle time for parts of the year.

Hence pyramids and stuff. (and writing for book keeping of stored food)

From a practical standpoint, food tends to rot quickly in nutrient rich environments such as the tropical rain forest.

Why save the fish if it's going to rot?

So, might this not indicate that chimps are slowly but surely evolving toward a higher intellect, as a harsh environment selects against the dumb?

If there were no matriarchs capable of grasping a concept like hunting with weapons, instead of bare hands, 100 years ago, does that mean that they might unravel stone sharpening in 500 years?

The idea that human civilization might witness the true, literal evolution and flourishing of a second earthly intellect in species outside of humans is really exciting.

Maybe it's not evolution in action. Maybe chimpanzees of today are no smarter than 100 years ago. Maybe it takes 50 years of trial and error amongst social groups to learn such a skill, and then retain it across generations by teaching. Maybe tools like this have been invented and lost many times by various chimpanzee social groups over the past few centuries.

But it would still be really cool if this were representative of the emergence of a generation of apes, palpably smarter than those of, say, the 19th century.

I wonder if humans could, or should, help this evolutionary process along.

We've probably hindered it multiple times in the past. We weren't the only apes to master tool making, we were just really good at it and out competed others that tried filling the same niche.

The article says they think female chimps invented first ever spear. So these scientists think chimps have been doing this a long time.

Well one line of chimps seemed to grasp the tool making concept and you can see how they tuned out. Who's to say it can't happen twice?

With the speed we are wrecking the planet they won't have enough time :(

I was watching a show about Orangutans recently and one of the things I thought was interesting was that orangutans in the wild are independent in the sense that they usually eat by themselves. But when they are put in captivity and they are around other orangutans they start to learn from each other and build off of each others concepts. In the wild when alone they stick with what they know, but when around other orangutans they learn from each other.

Chimps on the other hand eat and do other stuff with each other and are usually(if not always) part of a group and so they have more complex actions in nature just from learning from one another, picking up tips and building upon what they know.

If you ever want to have real fun, point this out to a doctrinaire feminist who is heavily invested in the idea that men are more violent than women because in the primordial landscape men did most of the hunting. I did this to a freind once, quite innocently, and she ended up so angry she could--in her own description--barely speak.

There is a whole literature in a particular brand of feminism (mostly associated with the radicals) that simply takes the association of hunting and interpersonal violence on faith, whereas in fact we're pretty sure men are more violent than women because of mate competition. The fact that we observe hunting behaviour amongst female chimps (who are less violent than male chimps) and female bonobos (who are far less violent than chimps, and no more violent than male bonobos, who also hunt) makes it clear that hunting behavior has nothing much to do with interpersonal violence.

This makes good sense from an evolutionary perpsective: killing a member of another species is a profoundly different kind of selective event than killing a member of your own species, particularly in a social primate like proto-humans where the individual you kill is likely to be closely related to you. The selective pressures on the two behaviours are almost completely disjoint, but to believe the feminist myth--or the equally silly pseudo-evolutionary anti-feminist myths that preceded it--you have to believe they are somehow related.

You make some interesting points, but there should be a norm against introducing a political topic on a non-political thread. There's a way to get to a political point from most non-political topics, but then every thread leads to a political fight.

I think it's especially important not to criticize a political point that no-one has brought up in the thread already. It's always tempting to address the worst arguments rather than the best ones, and there's more leeway to do that we we're not constrained by replying to something someone's actually said.

    > there should be a norm against introducing a political
    > topic on a non-political thread
No there shouldn't. You're welcome to use those little grey arrows to vote about what you want to see, but you are one voice amongst many.

I interpreted norm as different to rule. Sure, no need for a rule here. A norm is a convention. This norm sounds like a good guide to having a focused, mature and productive conversation rather than a noisy juvenile fight.

>There is a whole literature in a particular brand of feminism (mostly associated with the radicals) that simply takes the association of hunting and interpersonal violence on faith

This is a straw woman. I cannot think of any radical feminist for whom this is an important point. (You probably don't mean actually radical feminists, but just liberals with whom you disagree, but that's another point.)

I think virtually any feminist would say that men are violent because patriarchal society teaches and programs men to be violent. It teaches boys that violence is an acceptable way of solving problems, interacting with others, etc., and even when violence is overtly discouraged (for example, in schools) it is often covertly encouraged (the pride a father displays in a son who hits back against a bully, the resulting respect on the schoolyard for that child, not to even mention video games, movies, and other cultural role models).

But maybe you've just read different feminists from me. What prominent radical feminists, or even liberal feminists, hold this viewpoint?

There is a line from a post apocalyptic TV show: "Ain’t nothing sadder than an outdoor cat that thinks he’s an indoor cat". Why is it considered "misbehaving" when men don't act like women? We have advanced to a rather cushy society that allows for this stance to seem reasonable, and when considered only in this setting, perhaps it is. But the world is not all roses. Sometimes violence is not only an acceptable way of dealing with a situation, sometimes it is the only way of dealing with it and achieving a successful outcome. The bully comes in many forms, and when it's you, or your family, or your society that peaks the bully's prolonged interest, you only have one question: Fight, or flight? This decision boils down to whether or not you stand any chance against the bully. If your child is being stalked by a street gang, you should probably get in the car, drive 30 hours and relocate. If your child gets beat up by the school bully every week, then by all means, get him training on how to throw a punch, and the next time the bully chooses to bully, your child should break his nose. This sounds harsh, I'm sure, but my opinion comes from the experience of being in such situations (mostly as an adult, with non-violent bullies). The bully and I were lucky, as the bully got bored and moved on. But that experience made it crystal clear that one of the most horrible crimes anyone can commit is abusing one's power over another who is not capable of defending themself. We all agree rape is among the worst crimes a human can commit. It's an extreme case of abuse of power. Bullying, in whatever form, is abuse of power. I am in full agreement with Sun Tzu that it's better to avoid a battle if possible, because there is always a cost. But once you determine a battle is unavoidable, the right thing to do becomes clear, and in some cases the right thing includes violence. Luckily, most of us live in good enough circumstances that resorting to violence is rarely the right choice, but it's foolish to think violence is never an acceptable way of dealing with problems. Anyone who thinks that should count themselves lucky that their life experience so far has not brought them face to face with a real bully who won't go away.

Why is it considered "misbehaving" when men don't act like women?

What does it mean to act like a woman? You think you know. Name a behavior, I guarantee I can name a woman who does not engage in said behavior.

But the world is not all roses. Sometimes violence is not only an acceptable way of dealing with a situation, sometimes it is the only way of dealing with it and achieving a successful outcome.

But the GP was not talking about the entire world, they were specifically talking about child bullies.

The bully and I were lucky, as the bully got bored and moved on.

And yet the lesson you draw from this experience is that children should be taught to respond violently to a bully?

> What does it mean to act like a woman? You think you know. Name a behavior, I guarantee I can name a woman who does not engage in said behavior.

There is no set of "woman behaviors". If you want me to make a wild guess at a sweeping generalization for which there will be endless counter-examples, then here is my answer: Women in general are more risk-averse than men in general. This is the most logical explanation I have encountered for why both the world's leadership and the world's prisons are populated primarily by men.

> And yet the lesson you draw from this experience is that children should be taught to respond violently to a bully?

Not at all. From my experiences with bullies, the lesson I draw is that children should be taught that there is a time for violence, and they should be taught how to decide when it's time to take violent action against a bully. The mechanics of such an education are certainly non-trivial. If you tell a 5-year-old that "violence is okay", then you have failed. I expect that to properly educate a child in this area would require most of the childhood and into early adulthood. So it's not an easy task. If you want to tell your child that "violence is wrong", as one of those temporary lies that we have to tell our children because they don't yet have the brain capacity or life experience to understand the truth, then that's fine. But it seems like we have a majority of parents who go with the convenient lie and fail to follow up. I think that if the population were properly educated on this topic, the overwhelming majority would never encounter a situation over the course of their entire life where they chose violence.

Ok, next question. What is a woman? This is a serious question.

Here's the thing about your answer to the previous question: if what you mean when you say "act like a woman" is "cautious," why not just say "why is it considered misbehaving when men act recklessly?" The answer to that question would be much more instructive, although also somewhat tautological. You correctly describe your response as a sweep generalization with endless counter examples. In other words, wrong.

Gender is a cultural construction. Get that through your skull, and you can start talking about what you're actually talking about rather than muddying things up with your prejudices about men and women.

As for teaching about violence, you've made another mistake. Violence is always an evil. If nothing else, a violent act against an evil person still brutalizes the actor. The difference between story book morality and the real world is that real morality often involves choices between multiple evils. If the evil of not acting violently outweighs the evil of acting violently, then you must act violently. But it is not a lie to teach children that violence is always wrong.

it seems like we have a majority of parents who go with the convenient lie and fail to follow up

Yes, if only parents would stop teaching their children that violence is wrong, there would be less violence in the world. You realize how rediculous that assertion is?

> What is a woman? This is a serious question.

No, it's not. Thanks for the discussion.

You only say that because you didn't give it any real thought. Or because you realize there's no answer you could give that wouldn't reveal the incoherence of your previous statements.

I don't know why this was downvoted, it's a perfectly reasonable post. I can believe there is some second wave feminist who has written something like what the GP was saying above – feminists are pretty damn diverse. That said, it seems like most modern feminists are pretty skeptical of evolutionary psychology, and would be unlikely to make arguments about modern human behavior based on paleolithic culture. If you know otherwise, please produce whatever feminists you're talking about.

I don't know you, Mr. tjradcliffe, but I suspect that if you think it's fun to bait your feminist "friends" (why is this woman friends with you?), then she probably got mad at you not because of your fabulously argued points, but because you were being an asshole.

>she probably got mad at you not because of your fabulously argued points, but because you were being an asshole.

This encapsulates 90% of hacker news.

What's wrong with hitting back a bully if you can? If you can, by all means do it. The problem is not that, it's shaming those who can't hit back.

Social contracts, religions, wisdom traditions of all kinds have been founded on the insight that "hitting back a bully if you can" is not a good behavior in the long term.

The Buddhist text Dhammapada puts it like this, in Gil Fronsdal's translation:

    Hatred never ends through hatred.
    By non-hate alone does it end.
    This is an ancient truth.
(Of course this is not evidence; you didn't provide any, either.)

Idealistic moral philosophy and real life are quite different. My own experiences tell me repeatedly turning the other cheek will rarely improve your situation in reality. I think the utopia of religions and "wisdom traditions" run counter to human nature, especially in individual situations (e.g. bully violence) as opposed to a lofty moral concept for mankind (as in "we all ought to strive to...").

I see your point. Moral philosophy and real life aren't separable in a clear-cut way, though. This conversation isn't about judging whether individual actions by people in extreme situations involving violence are right or wrong. It's about the ideas, emotions, and structures that surround those situations.

Let's take another example. Consider the moral injunction "don't steal," and the ethical/philosophical idea "stealing is wrong." These are quite basic, definitely not outlandish. Yet there are many situations where stealing is necessary for one's survival[1] and therefore proper.

Someone discussing the ethics of theft could well be accused of lofty idealism because of the existence of emergency situations wherein theft are necessary. But I think such examples don't completely invalidate the moral prohibition against stealing; they only show that nuance is required.

This conversation started as a discussion of male conditioning, the culture of male violence, and how that relates to bullying at an early age. That's a larger scale than individual incidences of bullying.

The "utopian" idea of nonviolence, for example as expressed in my Dhammapada quote, isn't primarily saying that kids should be scolded for hitting back. I'd say it's more relevant to how parents, perhaps especially fathers, should talk about such violence. The hypothetical parent who cheers on the bullied kid when he/she hits back may be propagating values that are not beneficial.

[1]: Even such a strict property ethicist as Ayn Rand wrote about this in an essay called "The Ethics of Emergencies."

That's one way of looking at it. Another is violence is part of establishing a pecking order. Not fighting back generally establishes you as someone on a lower rank in the pecking order and invites more of the same over the long term. In cases where someone thinks physically you may be above them but you keep backing down this creates a tension. Where fighting back can clear things up and long term you may start a friendship with some of those bullies.

Also, even if you lose making fights more costly / painful is a significant disincentive.

PS: There are also pure sociopaths out there and not everyone can put up a good fight etc. But, in plenty of situations violence is not really vicious and can calm things down.

That seems like a very appropriate viewpoint in a thread about primates. However, as an irredeemable idealist and utopist, I have hopes for a human social order not based on violence.

I respect the utopian ideal, but Ideology separated from reality seems to cause a lot of issues. Basically non violent goals are a great thing to work toward, but non violent rules seem less useful.

I don't understand the terminology of "separated from reality." It's beyond obvious that ideology is a part of reality. What else would it be, supernatural?

It's a belief, people can look at cultures who really and truly thought human sacrifice would appease the gods and think. "That's false" It's much harder to accept F=M * A is also false. Sure, F=M * A is arguably much closer to the truth we can even say F=M * A is a simplyfied model known to useful Yada Yada but in the end it's clearly not true.

There are several less kind ways I could describe such overly simplified models, "Seperated from Reality" seems like the least offensive. Would you prefer, when there is a conflict between ideas and reality it's not reality that's false?

Early attempts to study stress hormones from aggression in large cats (e.g., lions and tigers) studied hunting behavior. The researchers puzzled over data that didn't make any sense to them for a long time before realizing that to a lion, killing that smaller mammal is like opening a box of cereal. That you really have to look at lion-on-lion violence to study aggression.

Do you remember where you read this? I have been looking for a source without success.

I'm pretty sure all this kind of pseudo science comes from /r/MensRights. Victimhood for everybody!

I don't see the men's rights angle in big cats not being stressed by consuming small prey.

It's weird that you don't see the angle considering we're discussing it in a thread about how stupid feminists are.

You once made a friend so angry she could barely speak, as a way of having fun?

I suspect you didn't really mean to connect those two, but it sounds kinda mean-spirited.

Gender relations are interesting that way. I wonder what evolutionary psychology theory explains this particular kind of behavior.

I would be interested to see testosterone distribution between male/females in other species of our monkeylike cousins.

I feel like I've seen many anecdotes by women who have transitioned to men (or are mid-process) who suddenly "get" many male behaviours once they start supplementing testosterone.

This subthread detached from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9397270 and marked off-topic. A pity, because there are some substantive comments in it too.

\tangents Are these chimps evolving intelligence? What conditions caused humans to evolve intelligence? Was it a rare, unusual event, or was it inevitable? I want to guard against the {anthro,ego,geo}centric-like view that we are the pinnacle of creation.

For our intelligence to evolve, there must have been an advantage to it, each step of the way, that offset the costs of gestating, growing, training and fuelling a larger brain. Looking at other animals, especially higher mammals, greater brain size and intelligence can have survival advantages. Although, considering the whole of life, most of it is not highly intelligent - bacteria, insects, fish etc still thrive as the majority.

There's a fascinating speculation applying Moore's law to the increasing complexity of life (see graph here http://io9.com/moores-law-predicts-life-originated-billions-...). This shows that it takes longer to evolve more complexity, though not that more complexity is necessarily better. I think it's fair to claim that humans are the most complex animals that have evolved so far... and that we are the ones to speculate on it because we just happened to be first (as in the Fermi paradox and fine-tuned universe). Therefore, we should expect other intelligent life to evolve on earth (perhaps from corvids, cetaceans - or even arachnids, some having extraordinary brain/body ratios); but it might take several million years, as that's what it took us. Complexity takes time.

Another view is that another intelligent species would have been the most dangerous threat to us possible. Humans certainly seem to have no problem killing other humans. We may have eradicated neanderthals, and other species in the human evolutionary line are also curiously missing today. Possibly, mammoths and mega-fauna were also increasing in intelligence? Perhaps we also set out to kill the most cunning and therefore most dangerous wild animals in general? Thus, delaying intelligence in competing species.

This isn't really news. I remember seeing an article about chimps hunting bushbabies with spears at least five years ago.

Gah. Time keeps speeding up as I get older.

I think what's happening is that the news is reported to be that chimps make and use tools to hunt, when in fact, the new data seems to be about female chimps being much more likely to make and use spears than males.

That isn't new either. From dalke's reference:

    Intriguingly, the behaviour is mostly confined to females and immature chimps.

This isn't my field, but as far as I can tell, they've done a more systematic study of which chimps are making the spears to confirm the previous observation that it was often females.

Fascinating. I wonder if this was learned through invention or through mimicking humans.

If only we could simulate evolution millions of years and see how chimps evolve.

> ...chimps that we can accelerate to near light speeds.

Isn't that the wrong way round? The first generation of chimps would return after hundreds of years [have passed on Earth] having barely appeared to have aged at all.

If you want to see the future, it is you who has to accelerate to near light speeds and then you will return to an Earth far in the future.

That idea is over 70 years old.nhttp://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcosmic_God:

"A highly secretive and reclusive biochemist named Kidder produces inventions that transform human life, spanning every aspect of science and engineering. Unbeknownst to anyone, Kidder has developed a synthetic life form, which he calls "neoterics." These creatures live at a greatly accelerated rate, and therefore have a very short lifespan and produce many generations over a short period of time. This allows Kidder, by presenting them with a frequently changing environment, to "evolve" them quickly into highly intelligent lifeforms who fear Kidder and worship him like a god. Kidder can control his neoterics' environment, and thus force them into developing technology far beyond that of humans."

Other excellent stories in this genre: Blood Music by Greg Bear, Permutation City and Crystal Nights (http://ttapress.com/553/crystal-nights-by-greg-egan/) by Greg Egan. Marooned in Realtime by Vinge had this a bit too—probably closest thematically to the GP's comment. A bunch of people wake up to a world that's been empty of humans for many thousands of years; the book spends some time talking about how some animals evolved.

There was a Simpson's halloween homage to this.

Haven't chimps already been evolving in tandem with our last common ancestor for millions of years? Why should they suddenly fast forward their evolutionary progress now that we are observing them?

This may be what you are driving at, but in case it isn't: The impression that chimps are suddenly rapidly evolving may simply be a consequence of us watching them closely. We may simply be noticing behaviors that have been present for much longer.

I've heard (think it was from the BBC Life series) that human evolution has sacrificed a lot of jaw muscle and other skull-related ruggedness as compared to monkeys, making room for bigger brains. Since this was obviously not a worthwile tradeoff for chimps etc. in the past, why should it be now?

My understanding is that this is due to heating food after early humans learned to control fire. Cooked food is more nutritious, and easier to eat, and can last longer without spoiling. This leads to the ability to allocate resources in the body more effectively (to the larger brains, versus muscles for hunting) and removes the need for extremely powerful jaws.

Not only. We are generally far weaker than chimps. Their muscle fiber allows for much more strength than us. But strength is useless when you're smart enough to work around it.

They may not be, as others have pointed out, but on the other hand, humans have disrupted their environment and put them under extreme selective pressure of various kinds. We have also reduced their population, creating a greater likelihood of inbreeding, which allows new variations to spread very rapidly throughout the remaining population.

So it isn't our observing them that is relevant. We may be putting pressure on them that is driving their evolution, and evolutionary change can happen very rapidly when the pressure is high.

Perhaps we can ask them in a couple years.

If you accelerated your terrarium to a high fraction of c, time inside would appear (from our perspective) to slow down, not the other way around. What you want to do here is accelerate us to near light speed instead.

You're right, my mistake.

Does it really matter? Learning is pretty much always mimicking others, whether it is you learning from others before you or our ancestors mimicking their predecessors like Australopithecus, Neanderthal or others. That's essentially what evolution is, adopting characteristics of preceding organisms by various means.

Wouldn't we have to be the ones in the terrarium? Few years pass for the party zipping round at a large percentage of c, many years pass for those left behind on Earth.

Yup. Got that backwards.

> If only we could simulate evolution a few million years and see how chimps evolve.

Look around. I see no reason a primate so similar to humans would not continue to evolve along the same lines.

Because humans already exist, perhaps.

Point. But in that case ther is no wondering cause they will be exactly how we make them. I assume question was based on no interference.

For some reason this reminded me of female primates using violence to get male interest and sex:


The Bonobo society also exhibits female alphas and uses extensive sexual activities (including hetero/homo and "group") to maintain social bonds.

However, even despite the apparent "similarities" I question our anthropomorphic instinct to assign to or infer too much meaning from the behaviour of our primate genetic relatives.

One reason contributing to that choice is because how humans behave in societies is shaped by centuries of social, cultural and political discourse on the ways in which we behave.

Am I the only one expecting to see photos rather than '6 Shocking Things About Chimps'?

I've read of theories that ancient man's brain development came so quickly because we learned to throw spears at prey. We nearly doubled our brain size in a very short time period (anthropologically speaking.)

It was thought that it resulted from developing a sense of lay calculus by throwing the spears. One anthropologist I heard speak said he thought that would mean major league pitchers are the pinnacle of human evolution. :)

Of course, that gentleman consumed more psychedelics than anyone I've ever known, so I'm not so sure.

More to the point, what if this is the beginning of a very fast evolutionary change?

I should start writing the script of "skynet vs the planet of the apes" with the last day's news.

On a serious note - a recent theory that in a heat sink ocean and energy source life evolving is inevitable, and we have multiple species able to get to intelligence ... the fermi paradox becomes more urgent to be solved.

I wonder what would happen if a 'village' of chimps attack humans with spears :) hellfire ? or automated drone strikes on them ?

Guns, probably.

It's 2015. We have seen again and again the Black Rights Movement, Women's Rights Movement, various Third Word Rights movements, and the Animal Rights Movement interrogate and challenge, again and again, the ways in which human cultures assign value to various categories of living beings.

And here we are, saying

> OMG monkeys using "tools" as defined by humans! Golden ponies and red chameleons!!

Get over it already.

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