Sunday, February 4, 2007

Biology of Violence...

Apes murder, as do chimps, Bonobos rarely do, is it nature or nurture?

A recent New Scientist article proposes that the reason Bonobo's do not act as agressively is due to thier environment, with plenty of resources extremely agressive behavior is rare.

One article talks about social status and monkeys:

Scientists who have won a Nobel prize live nearly two years longer than those who were merely nominated, according to a new study. The findings suggest that social status confers "health-giving magic", the researchers say.
Previous research has found a link between status and health in monkeys, but it has been difficult to investigate the link in humans because status often brings more wealth, which improves living standards and medical care.

And then there is sex, what NewScientist mentions here is almost pornographic. And remember we share 95% or more of gene pool with these mammals:

Then there is the sex. Bonobos are famous for it. Aside from the typical male/female activity, they also engage in more "creative" behaviours: wet kissing, masturbation, oral sex, female/female and male/male couplings, group activities, the list goes on and on. The only restriction seems to be incest between mothers and their children. Chimps by contrast restrict themselves almost entirely to male/female sex and don't have nearly as much of it as bonobos. What's more, males are dominant, frequently use food to lure females into having sex with them, and sometimes beat uncooperative females.

Then there are links to developmental psychology. Scientists have found links to child abuse and lower levels of chemicals in brains of chimps later in life:

Analysis of the monkeys’ brain fluid revealed that those reared by abusive mothers or abusive foster mothers had 10% to 20% less serotonin than monkeys who had grown up without maternal abuse. This supports the idea that the drop in serotonin results from mistreatment, rather than a genetic predisposition. (Journal reference: Behavioral Neuroscience)

Social aspects that appear to be totally human, such as teenagers being late for dinner. It sounds typical night in suburbia. Yet it happens in the Zoo of our primates as much as it does in the Zoo's of our suburban sprawls:

To show that even social rule enforcement is not beyond non-human animals, let me recount a fascinating situation that I witnessed years ago at Arnhem Zoo in the Netherlands. One balmy evening, when the keeper called the large chimpanzee colony inside, two adolescent females refused to enter the building. The weather was superb, they had the whole island to themselves and were loving it. The zoo's rule was that none of the apes would get fed until they had all moved inside. The obstinate teenagers threw the rest of the group into a grumpy mood. When they finally came in, they were assigned a separate bedroom by the keeper to prevent reprisals.
This protected them only temporarily, though. The next morning, out on the island, the entire colony vented its frustration about the delayed meal by a mass pursuit ending in a beating for the culprits. That evening, the same two females were the first to come in.( news service Frans de Waal)