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A response of frans de waals controversial argument on the theory of evolution

Profile of Frans B. M. de Waal

See " The a response of frans de waals controversial argument on the theory of evolution in the mirror: Not often does a book highly cited by scientists also appear on a best-read list for United States Congress members. Yet primatologist Frans B. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich for freshman Representatives in 1994 1. Embraced across many disciplines, the book detailed primate social structure and filled a gap in both the scientific literature and the public's imagination.

With this book, de Waal was one of the first scientists to break long-standing scientific taboos and study animals as cognitive and emotional creatures rather than as mere learning machines. Since that time, de Waal has become one of the most influential researchers of the social life of monkeys and apes.

His six popular books 1 — 6 have been translated into over a dozen languages, and his research has spurred new work in animal conflict resolution and peacemaking. In his Inaugural Article published in this issue of PNAS 7he presents findings on how capuchin monkeys react to their reflections in mirrors. Because mirror self-recognition is correlated with the first signs of empathy in human children, this work relates to how primates develop varying capacities for emotional connections.

Biology with a Spark of Life Even before his career in primatology, de Waal was never far from animals. The grandson of a pet-store owner and the son of a bank director, he spent his childhood weekends in the polders flat-lands reclaimed from water near his home in Waalwijk in The Netherlands.

He was engrossed by animal projects such as breeding mice, raising jackdaws, and creating a small aquatic zoo in his backyard with buckets filled with fish and eels. Yet in high school, de Waal's biology teacher was so uninspiring that he almost discouraged the nature-loving student from pursuing a life sciences career. Luckily, he says, his mother stepped in, pointing out that studying animals had been his long-time passion and perhaps biology would suit him better.

But biology was not a perfect fit at first for de Waal. His only interaction with animals in his coursework involved dissecting them and sketching their anatomy. Although interesting, he found it unsatisfying, and after 4 years, he was distinctly unhappy with school. To fill some time and earn extra money, de Waal began work in a psychology laboratory, performing cognitive tests on two young male chimpanzees.

Integrating Art and Aggression With a renewed interest in animal behavior, de Waal began graduate studies in 1970 at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen University of Groningen; Groningen, The Netherlands.

Groningen was the top institution for ethology, an animal behavior field that was in its heyday in The Netherlands at the time, de Waal says.

Compared with traditional fields across the Atlantic, ethology had a more biological perspective on animal behavior, suiting de Waal.

Next, de Waal moved to Universiteit Utrecht University of Utrecht; Utrecht, A response of frans de waals controversial argument on the theory of evolution Netherlands for doctoral work—thereby defying, he says, the Dutch tradition of single-university education.

The Bonobo and the Behaviorist: Frans de Waal’s Bottom-Up Morality

Recruited by primatologist Jan van Hooff to work on a large study of aggression, de Waal found postaggression behavior to be highly intriguing. On an island in the zoo, the brothers had established a colony of 25 chimpanzees, which was a rare setup at the time and is still the largest such colony today.

Here, while de Waal wrote his thesis on macaque aggression, he was able to watch through binoculars the unfolding Machiavellian soap opera of the colony's males. Through these observations, de Waal identified and characterized the social exchanges that allowed the chimpanzees' aggression to coexist with peaceful behavior 89.

It was the first time anyone had been able to study a large group of chimpanzees in captivity, and the experience remains the richest period of scientific discovery in de Waal's career. The only thing missing now in de Waal's new home were apes. Compared with monkeys, apes are more intelligent and closer to humans in development. In Arnhem, he frequently gave lectures to zoo visitors, and he appreciated their natural curiosity. Yet the hot topics in academia were the ones that set them yawning, he noticed.

After watching political upheavals among the chimpanzees in Arnhem, de Waal decided it was the perfect subject for a general-audience book. For 2 years, he worked on Chimpanzee Politics, which published in London in 1982, translated from his Dutch handwritten manuscript 1.

Although he initially envisioned a book that was half-scientific and half-popular, a response of frans de waals controversial argument on the theory of evolution Waal ended up writing a popular book also well received by the scientific community.

In fact, it is still probably his most widely cited piece of writing, he says. Chimpanzee Politics broke old scientific taboos by attributing traditionally human qualities to animals.

At the time the book was published, academic views had begun to change, thanks in part to work by animal researchers such as Donald Griffin, Jane Goodall, and de Waal.

Each took a middle-ground approach to animal cognition.

The Unseen

If I had written that book 10 years earlier, probably I would have been burned at the stake. Ten years later and it would have been after the revolution. Mindful of the conservative academic climate, de Waal's advisor van Hooff urged his student to be more modest with some of the book's more controversial conclusions.

But de Waal felt strongly about what he saw among the chimpanzees in Arnhem and thus spoke his mind directly. A willingness to be outspoken continued to be a hallmark of de Waal's career.

In the late 1990s, he wanted to publish potentially controversial work on bonobo apes but found resistance from editors. Basically, the sex in bonobos was being worked under the table by shy people who felt embarrassed. In 1997, he published the book Bonobo: The ability to consistently produce general-audience writing and rigorous research sets de Waal apart from many other scientists. He has such a high standing with his fellow scientists because he does hard work in order to get good data and form his opinions.

As a research faculty member, he concentrated on research but could not easily mentor students. His work had been mainly observational until that point, but he had become interested in doing more experimental research. At Yerkes, he set up a laboratory focused on capuchin monkeys, designed for experimentation and based on a concept by primatologist Hans Krummer in Switzerland. Although de Waal initially concentrated on experiments on cooperation and reciprocity a response of frans de waals controversial argument on the theory of evolution primates, he has also been interested in empathy 14.

The Cosmopolitan Ape

In 1996, he wrote the book Good Natured, in which he discusses the capacity of primates to have empathy 2. In human children, these higher forms of empathy appear only when they are old enough to recognize themselves in the mirror, de Waal says. Interestingly, apes a response of frans de waals controversial argument on the theory of evolution recognize themselves in the mirror, whereas monkeys cannot. Similarly, apes are capable of more complex expressions of empathy than monkeys are, and de Waal has argued that a connection exists between empathy and mirror self-recognition.

Strange Reflections In his Inaugural Article in this issue of PNAS 7de Waal presents results of an experiment to test the assumption that monkeys looking into a mirror mistake the image they see for a real monkey. Although it has been documented that monkeys do not recognize their own reflection, de Waal wondered whether they believed their image was that of a strange monkey.

In the experiment, capuchin monkeys from the Yerkes experimental habitat were observed in front of both familiar and unfamiliar monkeys and in front of a a response of frans de waals controversial argument on the theory of evolution. Their reactions to the mirror were markedly different from their reactions to real monkeys, especially ones from another social group, de Waal says.

We don't know what they see. They don't see themselves. But they also don't see a stranger. Basically, they fall somewhere in between. Before the age of 18 months, humans do not recognize their reflection, but they develop a certain understanding of the mirror and understand they are not looking at a real child.

Evolution of morality

This behavior contrasts with some theories in animal science literature that claim a black-and-white distinction in mirror self-recognition. In his Inaugural Article, he argues that capuchin monkeys fall into a gray area shared by human infants. A Mixed Moral Heritage Although the study of animal emotions remains a controversial area, de Waal's work is enjoying a boost from the field of neuroscience.

Are humans naturally moral creatures, or do we learn morality only through hard work? In answer, de Waal says he mostly agrees with Charles Darwin, who called morality an outgrowth of social instincts and viewed it as an evolutionary product.

In October of this year, his newest book, titled Our Inner Ape, is slated to publish 15. It is more focused on human behavior than any of his previous popular works.

We have a very nasty side to us, and when we are nasty, we are nastier than almost any other animal that you can imagine. But we also have a very nice, altruistic side to us. And when we're nice, we're actually much nicer than almost any animal you can imagine.