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Basis for the demonic male hypothesis

the Demonic Male Hypothesis, ..

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Richard Wrangham has a hypothesis

Anecdotal observations have led to the suggestion that bonobos may be more empathic than chimpanzees (). Psychopathy, a disorder marked by lack of empathy, is associated with reduced size and function of the amygdala (; ), as well as reduced functional connectivity between the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) (). These results and others have led to the hypothesis that the pathway from the amygdala to the VMPFC is involved in perceiving distress in others and in learning to avoid behaviors that provoke such distress (). Our results show that bonobos have more gray matter in the dorsal amygdala and a larger pathway linking the amygdala with VMPFC compared with chimpanzees. There is evidence that testosterone impairs the functioning of this pathway in humans (), and chimpanzee males have both higher baseline testosterone metabolite levels (), as well as a more pronounced increase in testosterone in response to feeding competition () compared with bonobo males. Thus, species differences in pathway size may be augmented by differences in testosterone-mediated functional suppression. There is also suggestive evidence, in the form of the ratio of the second to fourth finger length (2D:4D), that chimpanzees may have higher prenatal androgen levels than bonobos (or humans) (). Prenatal testosterone levels are inversely correlated with measures of empathy in human children (). Thus, organizational effects of prenatal androgens could contribute to species differences in the size of the pathway linking the amygdala and VMPFC, as well as other empathy-related structures.

Demonic Males, co-authored with Dale Peterson
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I know that bonobos were treated in Demonic Males, but it was along the usual lines of “How lovely and charming they are, yet irrelevant.” The idea that bonobos are a sort of sidebranch that we can safely ignore is not supported by genetic analysis (see the recent genome paper), nor by the bonobo’s anatomy which, if anything, looks more human-like than the chimpanzee’s. What I would prefer is a serious consideration of the bonobo alongside the chimpanzee rather than a story about how they took off on their own and ended up in a place that has no bearing on human evolution. In this respect, Kano had a very interesting view. He said that bonobos were the only African apes which had never left their original environment of humid, swampy rainforest. Chimps had partly left this environment, humans completely. So, Kano felt that bonobos had encountered the least reasons for evolutionary change, and therefore most resembled the last common ancestor. This scenario is rarely mentioned, but given what we know about ape ecology just as possible as any other.

20/01/2014 · It’s official, ladies and gentlemen

Harvard scientist Richard Wrangham has argued that male violence in human evolution, ..
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Alas, in the fullness of time, the apes, too, were roused from their reverie in the Garden of Eden and shown the door. I recommend Demonic Males by primatologists Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson to anyone who wants to read the details of how we finally discovered that they had actually been munching the forbidden apples all along. The book was originally published in 1996, but I hadn’t actually read it until recently. Peterson cites a blurb from Publisher’s Weekly that sums it up nicely:

In Demonic Males, Wrangham and Peterson do indeed address questions of female cooperation and bonobo evolution. Two chapters are devoted to looking at the lack of aggression among bonobos. In chapter 11 “Message From the Southern Forests” they explore questions of how bonobos diverged from chimpanzees and exploited a forest free of gorillas. At the same time in a different environment future hominids were beginning to explore the grasslands. They are speculating that bonobos and humans have a very different ancestral history and we did not evolve from bonobos. Worth the read.

Human being - New World Encyclopedia

The Theory of Evolution via Natural Selection is no longer a “theory”; it’s confirmed science
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Well said, but I have one gripe. Demonic Males may have focused more on chimps, but what they authors had to say about the bonobos was fascinating and inspiring.

Another interesting phenomenon is discussed at length in Demonic Males; the remarkable behavioral differences between chimpanzees and bonobos. That, however, is also a topic for another day.

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