Monday, November 19, 2007

Sociobiology, evolutionary psychology and Chimps. Oh my!

Over on Evolving Thoughts, John Wilkins is going to make the case for sociobiology. He starts out by distancing sociobiology from evolutionary psychology taking the position the latter takes an overly adaptationist view of evolution. It should be interesting to say the least.

What I am still waiting on is to find someone to discuss the article published in PNAS a couple weeks ago entitled Phylogenetic analyses of behavior support existence of culture among wild chimpanzees. The authors, as summed up in the commentary by Andrew Whiten accompanying the article, "conclude that the phylogenetic trees that best describe the affinities between the behavioral profiles of different chimpanzee communities are not compatible with a genetic explanation and instead support the cultural interpretation." In other words, Chimps might have social learning and the cultures that go with that. An interesting question is then, did the last common ancestral ape of Chimps and humans also have social learning/culture? If so, how does that impact how we view human evolution? If yes, then the evolution of humans in terms of brain development/intelligence/behavior/etc. must be looked at in both a biological and social context (really the interplay between the two).

2 comments:

Schlupp said...

Both answers to your question about the common ancestor would be cool:
1) Culture is important for humans as well.
2) Culture is important for chimps, but not for humans. "I ain't evolved from no human!" says the chimp creationist.

John Wilkins said...

I have completed that series, but I will have more to say on sociobiology in coming months. In the meantime, I recommend Barbara J. King's Evolving God as a way to do this work.