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One advantageous way humans are more like dogs than Neanderthals

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Your question is right: You can have a species become more friendly as a result of some change to their psychology, or even their physiology, that allows them to want to be together, or more tolerant, without resulting in self-domestication.

Eighty-thousand years ago, a process began that would change the course of history. It is evidenced in the fossil record and in interactions you witness daily. It drove a cultural revolution that’s the foundation of human society. It’s why today people are tolerant of each other and also why they are cruel.

Homo sapiens chose to become friendly.

is a professor in evolutionary anthropology, psychology, and neuroscience at Duke University. He recently co-authored the book with , a research scientist, writer, and journalist.

Friendliness is what has made us so successful as a species and is key to our long-term survival, Hare and Woods write. Underlying this is something that humans, bonobos, and dogs all have in common: we all self-domesticated. We made a choice driven by natural selection and evolved to become better at reading the cooperative intentions of others.

But our inclination towards friendliness is not all roses. Hare discusses in the interview below.

What is the link between friendliness and self-domestication? It seems like some animals can show friendly behavior — but not all animals are self-domesticated.

The thesis of the book is that friendliness is a winning strategy in life. A lot of the big changes, where a set of organisms or an organism becomes monumentally more successful, is really a result of friendliness. Friendliness allows for a new form of cooperation.

Your question is right: You can have a species become more friendly as a result of some change to their psychology, or even their physiology, that allows them to want to be together, or more tolerant, without resulting in self-domestication. Self-domestication is friendliness that affects development in order to have friendliness expressed. And when you change early developmental pathways, it has a big impact on not just behavior, but morphology and physiology as well.

Is self-domestication what sets us apart from other members of the Homo genus?

Usually, when people ask, Hey, why are we different from other animals? you would say, Well, we have big brains; we have language; we have culture. All those explanations don’t work, though, if you know we were not alone on the planet until 50,000 years ago. There were at least four other human species that were running around on planet Earth with us.

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