On HumansJune 18, 202301:02:2357.12 MB

21 | What Kind of Apes Are We? ~ Richard Wrangham

What would a Neanderthal think about our species? What about a chimpanzee? When compared to our cousins, how friendly or violent are we?

Richard Wrangham is a chimpanzee expert and professor of human biology at Harvard. He is one of the most important evolutionary anthropologists alive and truly one of the dream guests for this podcast. It was a great honour to have him on the show. We discuss topics such as:

  1. What makes studying chimpanzees interesting
  2. Why you could not put 100 chimps on a plane (and not see a fight)
  3. What about bonobos?
  4. The goodness paradox: or why Wrangham thinks that humans are both a remarkably friendly and a relatively violent ape.
  5. Are humans a child-like ape?
  6. Why human skulls resemble dogs, not wolves
  7. What five decades of research have taught Wrangham about humans

Mentioned scholars

Jane Goodall / Takayoshi Kano / Martin Surbeck / Michael Wilson / Kim Hill / Victoria Burbank / Brian Hare / Dimitri Belyaev / Lyudmila Trut / Adam Wilkins / Tecumseh Fitch / Stephen Jay Gould / Michael Tomasello / Christopher Boehm / Douglas P. Fry / Amar Sarkar

Mentioned papers

Further reading and a FREE audiobook offer:

Below is a list of further book recommendations written for the general audience. You might be eligible to get one of these books for free from Audible. 

  • Reason For Hope (by Jane Goodall). A mix of a scientific memoir and a philosophical inquiry. Read beautifully by the author.
  • How to Tame a Fox (by Lyudmila Trut and Lee Dugatkin). Story of the remarkable experiment on domesticated foxes.
  • The Chimpanzee Whisperer (by David Blissett and Stany Nyandwi). The story of a man who learns to pant-hoot with chimpanzees.

How to get your free audiobook from Audible (if eligible, see terms & conditions behind the link):

  1. Start an Audible account or re-activate your old one using this link: https://amzn.to/3qMMshw.
  2. Once your account is live, you will get one free credit. You can use this on the book of your choice.

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Email: ilari@onhumansorg

A suggestive timeline of human evolution (estimated years ago) 

  • c. 6 million years ago: Last common ancestor of humans, chimpanzees and bonobos 
  • 4 — 3 million years ago: Australopithecines
  • 2.5 — 1.5 million years ago: Homo habilis (arguably the first human)
  • 2 million — 100 thousand years ago: Homo erectus (first “proper” human according to Wrangham)
  • 600 thousand — 300 thousand: Homo heidelbergensis (evolving to Neanderthals and us)
  • 300 thousand — today : Homo sapiens