Learning about primatology this week has been especially intriguing because we usually never get the opportunity to learn about how animals and humans can be so similar to each other. Typically, we only notice how different animals are from us and from each other. This week’s lecture focused on how humans and all of the other primates besides us share a common ancestry, and how you can draw analogies (similarities) between all of us. When we talked about DNA in previous lectures it was mentioned that we share about 97% of our DNA with chimpanzees, and the lecture this week on primatology allowed us to visually compare and notice just how similar we are to them in particular. I found the social interactions and other behavior to be highly interesting this week because I have never quite realized just how similar we are in a social sense.
As humans we have developed a lot of tools, and I mean a lot, that we utilize in almost every aspect of our lives. Just about everything we use could be considered a tool, such as a hammer, shovel, fork, knife, wrench, etc. From the documentary I found it interesting that other primates create, and utilize tools as well. Chimpanzees can use rocks and chunks of wood as hammers, almost the same as an early human would, or even if we were stuck without any other options would probably use.
On more of a social interaction aspect, it is interesting that chimpanzees, and other primates, sometimes act in war and act violently as well. I found the statement from Wayman’s article “What is war good for? Ask a Chimpanzee” particularly interesting when they mentioned that, “instead of humans and chimps being natural born killers, violence in both species may be more a matter of circumstance”. If we look at human behavior, we do not see people being especially violent all the time, however, we do see particular cases where people do become violent. If we were supposed to be natural born killers, then you would think that there would be a much higher rate of violence all around. The behavior of chimpanzees allows us to record and watch this behavior from an outside prospective. The fusion-fission societies then to cause violence, and it is also noticed when it comes to their territory (which is important when it comes to resources and survival of one’s group).
The Bonobo’s also present a really interesting social case to study because they have a more female centered society, and sex also plays a key role in their society. They are a very peaceful species, which you can also relate to the previous statement about violence being more of a matter of circumstance, and they also live in similar fission-fusion society. I thought that it was interesting that there is this difference between the two. The bonobos will have sex with each other, no matter the sex, and they will also use sex as a tool to resolve conflicts.
It has been interesting this week learning about how we are so similar to primates and all of the analogies we can draw from studying them.