Friday, November 04, 2005

Primate infanticide

Via Tangled Bank, I read this interesting post comparing infanticide in human and non-human primates. It appears that the evolutionary explanations that best fit the data for infanticide in our cousins do not work well with the infanticide data for humans. One example of a difference in the data: no recorded case, ever, of a non-human primate mother committing infanticide of her own offspring in the wild. I assume they're excluding abandonment, which maybe they shouldn't, but still it clearly indicates that we're a weird primate.

Another interesting aspect is that chimp infanticide appears somewhat harder to explain with simple evolutionary principles than is the case with monkeys. That fits my own little theory that behaviour of smart animals is hard to predict, and we're a lot smarter than chimps.

I think the concepts behind evolutionary psychology, that evolutionary principles help explain human psychology, is worth considering. I'd take any simple explanations evolutionary theories with a boulder of salt, though.

key: science, ape

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