Re: Evolution, "adaptation", and what's currently adaptive

Len Piotrowski (
Mon, 9 Sep 1996 19:08:06 GMT

In article <50q0i1$> (Gerold Firl) writes:


>The hamadryas baboon manifests behavior which looks an awful lot like

It seems to me you confuse a dominance hierarchy with "jealousy."

>successful adult males will generally maintain a harem of about 4
>females, and if one of them strays too far, particularly if other
>males are around, he will viciously attack her. Sound familiar?

Sounds like a projection of your own world view onto an alien world to me.
Violence and domination hierarchies do not equal "jealousy."

>Another interesting aspect of the hamadryas social interaction
>("meaningful behavior", in your parlance)

Hamadryas social interaction is not meaningful behavior in my parlance.

> is the reaction of the
>females while they are being subjected to "domestic violence"; as their
>male is biting and pummeling them, they move closer towards him, which
>eventually placates him. Sound familiar?

Can't say that it does. Suppose you tells us, Firl, so we'll all know just how
you're trying to create a particular version of a human world in your selected

>This "meaningful social interaction",

This is not meaningful social interaction by my definition.

>as distasteful as it sounds to
>modern ears, is entirely adaptive and functional.

Where's the physical basis of your "jealousy behavior" or the "jealousy
urge?" If it is genetically "designed" when and where did it emerge as a
trait? If it is genetically determined, how was it manifest as purpose - did
it just happen? Was it associated with a "neuropeptide" that stimulated a
jealousy craving? Was it recognized as a new characteristic in individuals and
associated with harems? Was it learned or conditioned? At what point in the
purported process between the emergence of this "jealousy trait" and it's
retention did it take on the aspect of a function?

>It serves to
>increase the fitness of the individuals concerned: that is, it
>increases the probability that their genes will be be propagated.

Problematic, both whether or not this behavior fits your definition, and if it
performs the function you intend for it.

>The resemblance to human behavior is just too close for comfort - at,
>least, for some of us.

Some of us have no difficulty recognizing ancestral relationships in the
physiology and behavior of non-human primates. The questions arise as to
the methods and theory for explaining them.


>Here is a testible hypothesis, based on an evolutionary/adaptationist
>anthropological perspective: in matrilineal societies, there is a
>lower correlation between the identity of the legal and biological
>father than in patrilineal societies. This elementary reality has
>profound implications for the fundamental structure and function of

Despite the over zealous attempt at self-importance, be my guest and test. I
think the community shall judge it's profundity!


>Exactly. The nayar are probably the best example of the effect I
>described above; nowhere is the correlation between matrilineality and
>lack of paternity confidence as clearly seen as among the nayar.

If the structure where patrilineal, how does this clarify biological paternity
for the Nayar?


>Why are hamadryas baboons "jealous"? Is it a cultural thing? %^)

Some would argue for an expansion of the cultural definition to other
organisms. I have a narrower view, just as I have a more specific idea about
meaningful human social behavior. It's a matter of point of view. However, I
detect in this territorial imperative a kind of hegemony on explanation that
is decidedly non-scholarly, intolerant of alternative opinions, and fast
waning towards the state of boredom.



"If you can't remember what mnemonic means, you've got a problem."
- perlstyle