Find the mistake in the evolution of man

BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place at the ...

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Hi dudes,

Last week I was watching a BBC documentary on the evolution of human being and… incredible, in this BBC documentary there is a quite big mistake!!! Who can find it?

As we wrote in our mission we didn’t want to make a classical divulgation blog because often when we try to make think too easier we make them wrong. And here is an example. A little clue? Take the chance to read about the Neo-Darwinists and how they improved our comprehension of evolution (it is particular relevant in the last part of the documentary).

Good luck and give it to try!!!


The chimpanzee war

colonisation de l'Europe par Homo sapiens

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Hi Dudes!

So today 12 February 2011 we want to celebrate the 202° birthday of the genius of Darwin. For this Special day our blog participate to the Carnival of Biodiversity, an initiative promoted by Livio Leoni, Marco Ferrari, Lisa Signorile.  Today all the blogs attending this initiative will publish a post dealing about evolution with the title: “Biodiversity and adaptation: the constant competition for food and space”. All the post, including ours, will be listed with a review on the blog Leucophaea (Marco Ferrari) at  this page. So enjoy the reading!

The chimpanzee war

Competition between species, between members of the same species and, as Richard Dawkins would say, between genes, is one of the major “driving forces” of evolution. Individuals developing a new feature (due to random mutation) with competitive advantages for survival and reproduction will pass this information on to the offspring and, as such, a small evolutionary step occurs. The competition can be on different levels: competition for food, for female, for space and in the case of Homo sapiens sapiens also for money and power. In the so called “superior animals” (name refers to their elevated structural complexity) adaptation does not only include physical but also behavioral adaptation. Behavior plays an important role in the game for survival. An example would be fear that pups usually show which protects them from being seen and caught by predators. Furthermore, altruism that parents show for their offspring is important for survival. On the other end of the spectrum there is aggression: within the same species, aggressive behavior may be important when fighting for a female or for food. In this perspective, the history of the Homo sapiens sapiens is full of violence and the more aggressions are organized the more deadly and devastating the final outcome is: holocaust and global war. However, anthropologist Christopher Boehm hypothesizes that the identification and suppression of intra-species violence provided the basis for a human moral system and human behavior which gives man a competitive advantage (Boem, Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 7, Numbers 1-2, 2000, pp. 79-101 and Boehm Harvard University Press,1999, “Hierarchy in the forest: the evolution of egalitarian behavior.”). This hypothesis is supported by human-chimpanzee comparative studies by Richard W. Wrangham, Michael L. Wilson and Martin N. Muller (Primates, 2006) in which they explored the behavior of chimpanzees with particular emphasis on the rate of intra-species aggression between members of the same or different communities. They calculated that Chimpanzees have a rate of aggression similar to the first hunter-gatherer societies but a 2/3 folds higher aggression when compared with modern humans. These data partially support Boehms hypothesis: the reduction of violence between members of the   same species allows community to form and be in competitive advantages respect single individuals. Although humans show a reduced aggression between members of the same species, they are able of coalitional aggression to other groups for the survival of their own group: this is what we call war. Do our closest relatives make “war”? A 10 years study in the Ngogo  Kibale National Park, Uganda (where the Homo sapiens sapiens is involved in a intra-species inter-ethnic devastating war) by the naturalists John C. Mitani, David P. Watts, and Sylvia J. Amsler ( Current biology, Volume 20, Issue 12, 2010) showed that Chimpanzees are able to make lethal coalitional attacks on members of other groups for years (like battles) to finally occupy the region of the other groups (they basically win the “war”). Although the reasons for this kind of war are not entirely understood: “It is not sure whether the “coalitional attacks by Ngogo males may lead to new females joining their community” but all the evidences suggest that “By acquiring new territory through lethal coalitionaal attacks, male chimpanzees improve the feeding success of individuals in their own community, which in turn can lead to increased female reproduction”. From an evolutionary point of view this is particularly relevant.”

Although aggression within the same group is a competitive disadvantage  for the formation of a community (which, in general, represents a competitive evolutionary advantage for many “superior animals” such as wolves, penguins, but also for insects like ants and bees) inter-group aggression seems to be a common competitive evolutionary trait human beings and chimpanzees have in common.

In conclusion, these data suggest that aggression is something destructive and creative at the same time, creative when it is addressed externally (against other groups, other species etc.), destructive when it is infiltrates a community. Of course , externally directed aggression is destructive for the others and internal aggression is creative for a new group taking over the power but from the point of view of an organism-like community, this conclusion should be right, albeit very general.

“Science is the poetry of reality”


Since the homo sapiens started being aware of his existence, the human being try to answer to many questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Which is the origin of the man and more general of life? How has the universe  been formed? How does nature work? Which is the right way of living?

At first man try to answer to this questions through 2 different approaches: the rational approach of philosophy where the rational argumentations are the fundamental basis, and the spiritual approach of the religion.

It was clear since the beginning that not all the answers can be given by a single approach. However, without an alternative approach, many efforts has been done to use philosophy and religion for answering to this questions. Both these approaches failed in giving optimal answer to naturalistic issues: the Greek philosophy was an astonishing piece of human history where many and fundamental progress in understanding has been done (as Bertrand Russel said: the modern philosophy is a revival of Plato’s). Despite the great achievements, Greeks failed in their lack of experimental evidence. Their rationalism was based only on rational argumentation, without testing if the reality was actually following the same pattern. In the Asimov book of physics, he explained how the Greek philosophy failed in describing the nature because it was based on axiōma that were considered true although their were not exact. Only with empirical observation was possible to correct those model.
The religions satisfy the need of spirituality of the human being, providing also explanations of the real world. Usually, most of religions state the existence of a God with great power, able to create the man, the world and the universe. At first, religions not only try to satisfy the spiritual needs but also try to explain the beginning of the universe, the natural mechanism and the creation of life. However most of these knowledge on natural system resulted to be false and inconsistent with human observation.
Therefore, science come into the scene to provide answers on how the world works, the mechanistic origin of life and human being and the origin of the Universe. The scientific knowledge have revolutioned the entire view we have of the world. On this basis it is now possible to go deep in understanding ourself and to find answer to the most ancient questions. Some religious organization recognize in the science an enemy. We don’t. We think that science is just explaining what God have done. The existence of God is something that we all have to deal with in our own consciousness.As I started with an amazing citation of Richard Dawkins,  I would like to terminate this first post of our blog by a citation of Einstein: “ I want to know God thoughts…all the rest are details”.