Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Sometimes it takes the great Dustbuster of fate to clear the room of bullies and bad habits. Among a troop of avanna baboons in Kenya, a terrible outbreak of tuberculosis 20 years ago selectively killed off the biggest, nastiest and most despotic males... With that change in demographics came a cultural swing toward pacifism, a relaxing of the usually parlous baboon hierarchy, and a willingness to use affection and mutual grooming rather than threats, swipes and bites to foster a patriotic spirit. "And if baboons can do it, why not us? The bad news is that you might have to first knock out all the most aggressive males to get there." Wishful thinking from nerdy academics, or a harbinger of our future?