Thursday, March 18, 2010

book notes

Demonic Males by Richard W. Wrangham

Eating roots may have been the adaptation that allowed hominids to transition from woodland to savannah, also explaining the thicker tooth enamel humans have compared to other apes.

Primitive humans today are very similar to chimps in size of communities, size and behavior of raids, and patri-lineal organization.

The hominid antecedent was probably were chimp-like in its behavior, including war. (which begs the question of whether its uniquely war-like behavior was what made it the only species to jump into self-aware intelligence_

"The motivation of a male chimpanzee who challenges another's rank is that he forseesmore matings, better food or a longer life. . .The temperamental goal is to intimidate the opposition, to beat them to a pulp, to erode their ability to challenge. Winning has become an end in itself."

Discussion of sexual mimicry among female hyenas -- females may mimic males as an adaptation to avoid conflict with other famales.

Spotted hyenas are always born as twins -- with the stronger twin killing the weaker or more vulnerable one because of limited mother's milk. As an adaption, infants emerge from the womb with fully formed teeth and strong jaws.

"Demonic males gather in small, self-perpetuating, self-aggrandizing bands. They sight or invent an enemy "over there" . . . The nature of the divide hardly seems to matter. What matters is the opportunity to engage in the vast and compelling drama of belonging to the gang, identifying the enemy, going on the patrol, participating in the attack."