Dogs, not chimps can help us understand human behaviour?
Well, this moved recently at msnbc.com:
Dogs (not chimps) most like humans
Man’s best friend serves as model for understanding human social behavior
By Jennifer Viegas
updated 11:58 a.m. ET, Thurs., March. 26, 2009
Chimpanzees share many of our genes, but dogs have lived with us for so long and undergone so much domestication that they are now serving as a model for understanding human social behavior, according to a new paper.
Cooperation, attachment to people, understanding human verbal and non-verbal communications, and the ability to imitate are just a handful of the social behaviors we share with dogs. They might even think like us at times too, according to the paper, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Advances in the Study of Behavior.
While there is no evidence to support that dogs and humans co-evolved their laundry list of shared behaviors over the past 10,000 to 20,000 years, the researchers believe adapting to the same living conditions during this period may have resulted in the similarities.
Well, I am glad someone noticed that dogs are way better at understanding and living with humans than chimpanzees are. It sure beats this (horrific chimp rampage).
Yes, yes, some dogs go bad, but almost always that can be traced to improper breeding (churning out puppies for profit without a thorough investigation of the sire’s and dam’s personalities) and bad handling (if a dog pup is raised like a young wolf, he may end up acting like one).
Dogs and wolves are very close genetically and can interbreed (as both dogs and wolves can with coyotes). However, the genetic and environment history that enables your dog to lie quietly on the mat while you read your mail – and not run out to chew the leg off the letter carrier – is a human intervention that must be carefully preserved in each generation.
Topal, who is based at the Institute for Psychology at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, is one of the world’s leading canine researchers. He and his team argue that dogs should serve as the “new chimpanzees” in comparative studies designed to shed light on human uniqueness.
Yes, exactly. It is time to give up the “third chimpanzee” myth.
Genetic similarity is not evidence of behavioural similarity. As I have pointed out before, in that case we should expect a rattlesnake and a ribbon snake to be roughly equally harmless … It is a silly ideal fronted by materialists, and it can do a lot of harm if taken seriously.
Much more can be learned about human behaviour from studying the normal relationship between humans and dogs than from tracking troupes of chimpanzees, eating other troupes’ babies (or human babies) – and inventing explanations for human behaviour based on activities few humans would relate to.
(Note: I don’t believe the explanation here that chimpanzees eating human babies is a “recent development.” There is no good reason to doubt that it has always been a normal behaviour pattern for that species.)