H/T to BMEWS for this little gem:
Grumpiness is a sign of advanced civilisation
Researchers now believe that being aggressive, intolerant and short-tempered could be a sign of a more advanced nature.
A more childlike attitude to behaviour such as tolerance and sharing, could, in contrast, be an indication of not being as developed, the new study suggests.
Researchers looked at two different kinds of monkey – the familiar chimpanzee and the less evolved but much more easy going bonobo, two of the closest living relatives to human beings. Chimpanzees are accepted as more evolved than bonobos in terms of physical appearance, behaviour and social structure. But chimps are also much more aggressive, particularly as they get older, when they become less tolerant of each other, share less and show more signs of violence to others.
Adult bonobos, on the other hand, are more Peter Pan-like. They retain the same levels of playfulness and behaviour they showed as juveniles, said the research by Harvard University for the online journal Current Biology. The two types of ape are very close to each other, genetically, but the clear differences are believed to be down to simple evolution, said lead researcher Victoria Wobber.
Her team put both chimps and bonobos through a variety of skill tests with rewards for those who completed various tasks the quickest. They included a sharing exercise and a begging exercise in which they had to work out which of their keeper’s was most generous. In all cases the chimps learnt the tasks fastest and to their better advantage. She believes that the ability to “restrain” their sociability was one of the reasons they were more intelligent and more civilised.
She said: “Bonobos took longer to develop the same skill level shown even among the youngest of the chimpanzees that were tested. “It seemed as if adult chimpanzees were able to exhibit more social restraint than adult bonobos.” She believes that humans being even more advanced are likely to exhibit even more adult like behaviour.
“If we can understand the evolutionary processes by which developmental changes occurred in bonobos, perhaps inferences can be made about our own species’ evolution,” he said.