The Decline of Violence in Homo sapiens

Science is finally making real progress on the question of how our species achieved a mostly nonviolent social harmony. … More The Decline of Violence in Homo sapiens

From Woodpeckers to Apes: Competition Drives the Correlation between Brain Size and Group Size

A new study of woodpeckers adds nuance to the relationship between brain power and social interactions. … More From Woodpeckers to Apes: Competition Drives the Correlation between Brain Size and Group Size

The Birth of a Cultural Meme: The “Do Not Disturb” Gesture in Mandrills

(A longer discussion of animal communication can be found in my book.) Mandrills are, literally, one of the most colorful creatures on earth and certainly the most colorful primates. Their striking faces are matched only by the bright coloring of their hindquarters. (Their genitals are colorful, too, if you must know!) The coloring is part … More The Birth of a Cultural Meme: The “Do Not Disturb” Gesture in Mandrills

The moral codes of other human species

The complex sets of drives and calculations that we call morality rise from our basic human instincts toward reciprocity, fairness, and empathy. These instincts are called prosocial because they promote cohesion and harmony in the social context of herds, packs, and families. However, humans are not alone in having prosocial instincts. Many, indeed MOST, mammals show prosocial … More The moral codes of other human species

Is Violence What Made Humans Smarter than Other Animals?

It is readily apparent that humans are, by far, the most intelligent species on the planet. How this came to be, however, is anything but clear. Our substantial cognitive abilities are made possible by our enormous brains. When it comes to brain size (relative to body size), humans have the largest brains of any vertebrate. … More Is Violence What Made Humans Smarter than Other Animals?

The Meaning and Meaninglessness of Genealogy

The practice of genealogy, researching one’s ancestors and family tree, has exploded lately. Ancestry.com has become a huge success, boasting millions of subscribers and a net worth well over half a billion dollars. Many, if not most, families in the US have at least one person actively researching the long-forgotten twists and turns of their … More The Meaning and Meaninglessness of Genealogy