Monday, March 06, 2006

Humans Ate Neanderthals And Are Eating Bonobos Today


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Bonobos are about to go extinct. Humans are eating them just like we ate all our nearest relatives who weren't hiding in deep jungles. Humans love cannibalism.

From AP:
Scientists are struggling to save the fast-disappearing bonobo, the gentle "hippie chimp" known for resolving squabbles through sex rather than violence.

Unfortunately, bonobos are prized by Congolese for their tasty meat, and many villagers who are illegally hunting the wiry, wizen-faced apes don't realize how close their prey is to extinction.

"Bonobos are an icon for peace and love, the world's 'hippie chimps,"' said Sally Coxe of the Washington-based Bonobo Conservation Initiative. "To let them die off would be a catastrophe."
The average American was taught to hate hippies. I remember because I was a hippie, though a rather violent hippie, thus the name, "The Violent Hippie Chick". Anyway, humans, hardly the paragon of virtues beloved by gods, are actually vicious cannibals that have eaten vast swaths of the planet's lifeforms into extinction. In Darwin's famous book about Evolution, he illustrates a successful bird strategy, the Passenger Pigeon, that adapted to modern farming techniques only by the time his book was published, the last Passenger Pigeon flocks were being decimated and work on annihilating the vast herds of buffalo had begun.

Humans killing bonobos claim the meat tastes yummy. Indeed, even with chimpanzees, it is the same, they go nuts over the delicacy of eating other monkey species and even eating each other's babies is a tasty treat. Humans were successful because we set up various complicated rules governing who to eat. For example, eating one's mate is a no-no and eating mother and sister and brother was bad, too. Indeed, as the ring of "do not eat" grew, the brains figuring this out grew, too. Being able to remember all the many rules, none of which are natural or inherited, meant having a large brain that is large enough to figure out how to teach complex social "do not eat/OK to eat" rules. Part of this system was "how to have sex, have children and not kill each other" rules.

These rules are breaking down rapidly across the board, across the planet. Due to overpopulation, the value of one's siblings, ones clan, ones own children is dropping. In some hard-pressed areas, selling the children into slavery and retaining only one is growing common.

Within "civilized" communities, the value of large families clinging together in the face of outsiders is in steep decline, too. Each generation, it grows less and less, each is sent out on their own and no one gives a hoot what happens next.

Back in the old times when the only way to survive was to protect the children collectively and have as large a clan as possible, humans did keep the genes for cooperation and love intact along with the mental gymnastics for avoiding T-rexing family members. From the BBC:
Scientists have long debated what leads people to "act out of the goodness of their hearts" by helping non-relatives regardless of any benefits for themselves.

Human society depends on people being able to collaborate with others - donating to charity, paying taxes and so on - and many scientists have argued that altruism is a uniquely human function, hard-wired into our brains.

The latest study suggests it is a strong human trait, perhaps present more than six million years ago in the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans.

"This is the first experiment showing altruistic helping towards goals in any non-human primate," said Felix Warneken, a psychologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

"It's been claimed chimpanzees act mainly for their own ends; but in our experiment, there was no reward and they still helped."
Humans and even apes will selflessly help strangers because deep inside us resides this "if you help this person, they might be carrying your genes" which is operational in a small community. As humans killed off all rivals and relatives, the need to recognize "this person has our genes" grew. I suspect one reason why we, unlike any ape or monkey, show a great deal of the white of our eyes is for identifying humans when all our other features looked similar to our nearer relatives. Animals show the white of the eyes only when very angry or very scared. We look like that all the time. We think of this state of being as natural but if any human stares at any animal, it flips them out. This is probably why zoo animals are very stressed at first before they figure the scary white eyed creatures are harmless.

"Altuism" in small children is problematic. They love to "help" but they also are in a continuous power struggle with mother in particular, father, if he is around and interacting. The tiniest baby will wail for attention. They will refuse to cooperate for the sheer joy of flexing their tiny wills. Then, at about 2 years of age, the storm breaks and it becomes a battle of wits and blunt strength to reel in the increasingly imperious tots. This is true of all animals dependent upon a parent. And they will compete ruthlessly with siblings until they learn the value of siblings.

The reason why total strangers will die for Bush, for example, is due to people exploiting this hard wiring which assumes human-like creatures must be related, therefore, one benefits if one dies for them. I will note that the Bush clan doesn't practice this at all which means the old Darwinian reciprical grooming genetics steps in. Namely, creatures able to tell if they are being "cheated" in reciprocation retaliate.

Another way of saying, the s**t is going to hit the fan, here.


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