Sunday, July 29, 2007

Monkey Altruism and Frans de Waal, Emory University Primate Researcher

This episode of Discover news discusses Monkey Altruism:

Here is a YouTube video about it too:

More About the Moral Sense in Animals

Here is more information about the moral sense in animals, copied from Wikipedia, which features 3 footnoted sources. (Click for more!)

Three footnoted examples of animal altruism

    * Dogs often adopt orphaned cats, squirrels, ducks and even tigers.[1]

    * Bonobos have been observed aiding other injured or handicapped bonobos.[2]

    * According to the research of Gerald Wilkinson, vampire bats have a "buddy system" in which a bat who has had a successful night of feeding will regurgitate blood for its less fortunate companion.[3]

See these web sites for examples of dogs adopting cats, including baby tigers, and more:

Mutt-ernal Instincts:

Excerpt from the site:

This week WNBC reported that "Bell" the Dachshund is the proud mother of 2 felines. Along with her recent litter of puppies, Bell nurses, cleans and protects the kitties as if they were her own.

Frans de Waal, Emory University Primate Researcher and One of Time Magazine's Top 100 2007 Leading Scientists and Thinkers


Here is an excerpt from the announcement on the Yerkes National Primate Research Center's web site,

ATLANTA – Frans de Waal, PhD, director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and a C.H. Candler Professor of Psychology at Emory, is featured in TIME magazine’s 2007 Top 100: The People Who Shape Our World special issue, available on newsstands today. de Waal, a world-renowned primatologist and best-selling author, is widely recognized for his behavioral and evolutionary work with great apes as well as for his nine books, two of which The New York Times named “Notable Books of the Year.”

Science Friday has an interview with de Waal, author of the book Our Inner Ape on this episode:


More about the researcher:

You can watch author Frans B. M. de Waal discussing animal love in this interesting segment:

Here is a list of other books by Frans de Waal

Primates & Philosophers (2006)
Frans de Waal

Our Inner Ape (2005)
Frans de Waal

My Family Album (2003)
Frans de Waal

Animal Social Complexity(2003)
Edited by Frans de Waal and Peter L. Tyack

The Ape and the Sushi Master Frans de Waal (2001)
Frans de Waal

Infant Chimpanzee and Human Child: A Classic 1935 Comparative Study of Ape Emotions and Intelligence
by N. N. Ladygina--Kohts Edited by Frans de Waal

Tree of Origin: What Primate Behavior Can Tell Us about Human Social Evolution (2001)
Edited by Frans de Waal

Natural Conflict Resolution (2000)
Filippo Aureli and Frans de Waal, editors

Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex Among Primates 1998 (1982)
Frans de Waal

Bonobo: Forgotten Ape (1997)
Frans de Waal and Frans Lanting

Good Natured (1996)
Frans de Waal

Peacemaking Among Primates (1989)
Frans de Waal

Side Note: Francis Collins: Outdated Arguments

This is very interesting, especially in light of recent prominent scientists writing books on both sides of the "God" question. In the case of Francis Collins, he is arguing in favor of belief in a Judeo-Christian god, not the Spinoza-Einstein style of god. (Some say Collins conception of god is more like deism, but I have not read his book, only have read and listened to interviews with him).

This observation of altruism from species-to-species and a "moral sense" in animals goes directly against Collins' statements. He tries to discount kinship and reciprocity in his arguments to Dawkins, but how can he explain monkeys and dogs adopting cats in any way other than a god giving those monkeys and cats the same, or better "moral sense" that a god supposedly gave human beings?

See the debate between Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins here:,9171,1553986-1,00.html

It's really quite astounding that he continues to advance that argument in light of all the research that has been done on this subject.

Collins, we know, believes in evolution and defends it against attacks from proponents of "intelligent design" (creationist) explanations, but I think it's far more parsimonious to explain the nature of morality in terms more close to what Dawkins said. Dawkins can be very strident in his tone and approach, and I don't always like that, but his arguments in the debate are much more grounded in scientific reasoning than Collins'.

Dogs 'N Cats

Finally, for a funny YouTube video of a male dog "nursing" a cat, see this:

1 comment:

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