Murder Is a Relatively Recent Evolutionary Strategy

Interesting research in Nature.

The article is behind a paywall, but here are five summaries of the research.

EDITED TO ADD (10/16): Non-paywalled copy of the paper.

Posted on October 11, 2016 at 5:51 AM • 18 Comments

Comments

DroneOctober 11, 2016 6:33 AM

According to some Gaia obsessed Treehuggers, anything that eats anything else is a murderer. So if each case of eating something is a case of murder, that may make members of the Baleen Whale family the #1 murderers on Earth.

David LeppikOctober 11, 2016 8:57 AM

Just to be clear, "relatively recent" doesn't mean murder is unique to, or even common in, humans. As the first link describes, meerkats are the top murderers; humans aren't even close to the top 20 list.

samOctober 11, 2016 9:28 AM

From theconcourse.deadspin.com -

> The surprise here is that humans are the outlier. Believe it or not, we are way more peaceful than we have a phylogenetic right to be.

We're also massively more successful than we have a phylogenetic right to be.

Correlation != causation, but it might mean there's scope for a study.

My InfoOctober 11, 2016 10:43 AM

Re my previous comment:

Apparently annoyed some people, so I assume it was on the money.

Perhaps the Department of the Navy would care to weigh in: here is another grand opportunity for terrorism and drug dealing. Scarcely 1600-1700 feet south/southwest of the Inner Harbor here in Baltimore is a large sports stadium, plastered with the name of some bank or another with a sports-crazed CEO who must have been quite generous with other people's money. (Remember, pro sports are very much against whatever the terrorists have for "morals.") However, just south of the stadium is an abandoned warehouse that fills a whole city block, bordered on the west/northwest by Warner St, on the north/northeast by W Ostend St, and on the south by a railroad. Just south of this abandoned warehouse (across the railroad tracks and Stockholm St) is an abandoned harbor, on maps called something like the "Middle Branch" of the Patapsco River off the Chesapeake Bay, even though it is navigable saltwater. This harbor is scarcely 500 feet south of the stadium itself.

As the Swedes say, "Där ligger en stor hund begraven."

I don't want to endanger anyone. I still haven't gotten my car back from the drug-dealing sheriff of Genesee County, Michigan who robbed it from me and misappropriated it in conjunction with a false charge of terrorism that never held up in court. Not to mention my computer, my backpack, my cell phone, my digital camera, and all my personal files.

That false charge was in retaliation for a complaint I had made of a computer store that was nothing but a front for a marijuana head shop that was obviously operating with the knowledge and protection of Sheriff Robert J. Pickell.

In retaliation for complaining about that theft, still more thieves from the D.C. lodge of the F.O.P. subsequently stole another backpack, my shoes, another cell phone, and my driver's license, bank cards, and postage stamps.

With the Trump tapes that just got released, the Republican Party is dead, (and it was mostly corrupt anyways,) so now we have eight more years of the Democratic mobsters' political machine to look forward to. The Constitution is nothing but an historical document for a form of government that was never fully achieved despite great and heartfelt effort and bloodshed, and is now well on the decline.

Farewell, land of the free and home of the brave. Now it's prison planet forever. At least until the crash of 1929 is repeated, and the Second Great Depression, Holocaust 2.0, and WWIII.

BearOctober 11, 2016 12:06 PM


I read as far as them calling dolphins and other marine mammals "peaceful" and had a good laugh. These clowns didn't do their homework.

bcsOctober 11, 2016 1:27 PM

I wonder how murder rates track with the decline of deaths from things like animal attacks, communicable diseases and starvation?

JG4October 11, 2016 5:49 PM


It depends on what you mean by "recent." Apologies if these links are redundant, particularly if I picked them up here or posted them before. My memory isn't quite as sharp as it used to be.

Prehistoric skull with puncture wounds could be world's first murder mystery
Pieced together from 52 fragments found in cave in northern Spain, 430,000-year-old skull seems to show victim was bludgeoned to death
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/may/27/prehistoric-skull-puncture-wounds-murder-spain-neanderthal

Ancient 'massacre' unearthed near Lake Turkana, Kenya
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-35370374
21 January 2016 From the section Africa

Mass grave reveals prehistoric warfare in ancient European farming community
http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/aug/17/mass-grave-prehistoric-warfare-ancient-european-farming-community-neolithic

The Curious Case of the Bog Bodies
http://nautil.us/issue/27/dark-matter/the-curious-case-of-the-bog-bodies

PeanutsOctober 12, 2016 12:01 AM

@ Your Info,

If you know they are prone to collecting your backpacks and phones, perhaps you can get a good deal on a few dozen Galaxy notes burner phones. And no not physics, non registered to clarify.

After you load wildly inappropriate to discuss material on said burner phone which may or may not be registered to the applicable relevant most deserving miscreant, carry that backpack around like it holds a secret

You will at least sleep a little better knowing you are crazier than r and
A good law abiding citizen, good day to you sir

rOctober 12, 2016 8:49 AM

@Peanuts,

Yeah, intent there is a weakness.

Plus the seemingly random failure mode is a lynch pin too.

I like my Sheriff's though, Co used to be first responders even in the worst situations.

Much respect there.

Real Sheriffs.

ALexOctober 12, 2016 8:05 PM

@bear I agree dolphins are not peaceful all the time, there is quite a bit of aggression and more than a little rape.
You see this in almost all higher order animals.
And humans have been killing each other since before they were human.

wumpusOctober 13, 2016 12:51 PM

That isn't what the linked summaries seem to say. They seemed to be saying that "not murdering" is more recent. It might not be so evolutionary as well, coming along with civilization (which may or may not be sufficient for evolved traits).

The 2% figure also seems rather low for known hunter gatherer tribes (although such "data" needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Often such things comes from paid interviews where the subjects have multiple motives and typically know what the anthropologist wants to hear.

Also don't assume that pre-civilization humans match current hunter gatherers. Current hunter gatherers eke out a life on what is typically the most marginal areas on Earth. Presumably ancient humans had a much easier time hunting and gathering on areas that are now/have been good cropland. A hunter/gatherer tribe that could be extinguished now with a murder rate multiple times higher than 2% might easily survive in a mediterranean climate (assuming no farmers were around to drive them off). And if such a culture develops, it does little good to have a pacifist culture when living next to a murderous one.

vas pupOctober 17, 2016 11:53 AM

@Bruce:
Free copy had at the top reference in Russian language. As soon as all here become paranoid of Russia interfering with all our IT systems, I'll suggest to avoid posting links to such sites until their security is cleared by our alphabetical soup LEAs/Intel - just humble observation.

Math and violence prediction - fresh post:
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-37658374
"Compas is basically a questionnaire that is given to criminals when they're arrested," she says. "And they ask a bunch of questions and come up with an assessment of whether you're likely to commit a future crime. And that assessment is given in a score of one to 10."
Angwin says the questions include things like: "Your criminal history, and whether anyone in your family has ever been arrested; whether you live in a crime-ridden neighbourhood; if you have friends who are in a gang; what your work history is; your school history. And then some questions about what is called criminal thinking, so if you agree or disagree with statements like 'it's okay for a hungry person to steal'."
A risk score might be used to decide if someone can be given bail, if they should be sent to prison or given some other kind of sentence, or - once they're in prison - if they should be given parole.
But how the algorithm gets from the answers to the score out of 10 is kept secret.

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