A fascinating article in Wired makes the case that some animals that were once highly aggressive, blood-thirsty creatures (like bonobos and dogs and foxes and macaques) have, over time, become mellow, cooperative, Lebowskian dudes.
Chalk it up to self- domestication. Not to be confused with self-deportation, self-domestication happens when some species discover that their key to long-term survival is not by clawing everything in sight but in mutual cooperation, trust and respect. Consider the Tonkean macaque.
"They live in cohesive social groups and fight rarely. Unlike other macaques, their conflicts are followed by acts of reconciliation. They also have a habit of baring their teeth, but whereas in other macaques it signals submission, in Tonkeans it's exchanged between equals. This display is used like a smile," said ethologist Bernard Thierry of the University of Strasbourg.
That's all well and good for John Q. Tonkean macaque, but what about humans? Is socialization making us nicer as the eons pass or are we regressing to our shrieking, poop-flinging roots? Higher primates, the comments are yours.