Learning from apes, fish and wasps May 23, 2022

from Start the Week· ·

Adam Rutherford explores how other species can help us understand our own. The world-renowned primatologist Frans de Waal has spent decades observing the behaviours of chimps and bonobos. In Different: What Apes Can Teach Us About Gender he looks at, and questions, the interplay of biology and culture. Using his knowledge of apes he challenges widely held beliefs about masculinity and femininity and assumptions about authority, power, cooperation and sexual behaviour. Nichola Raihani’s research focuses on the evolution of social behaviour in humans and non-human species. In her book, The Social Instinct, she looks at the science of cooperation and …



Adam Rutherford explores how other species can help us understand our own. The world-renowned primatologist Frans de Waal has spent decades observing the behaviours of chimps and bonobos. In Different: What Apes Can Teach Us About Gender he looks at, and questions, the interplay of biology and culture. Using his knowledge of apes he challenges widely held beliefs about masculinity and femininity and assumptions about authority, power, cooperation and sexual behaviour. Nichola Raihani’s research focuses on the evolution of social behaviour in humans and non-human species. In her book, The Social Instinct, she looks at the science of cooperation and how humans have evolved socially and built, and fought over, hugely complex communities. But she also suggests we might have something to learn from the pied babblers of the Kalahari, and the cleaner fish of the Great Barrier Reef – two of the most fascinating and extraordinarily successful species on the planet. While ants and honey bees are often held up as exemplars of social cohesion, the entomologist Seirian Sumner wants to rehabilitate the much-maligned thug of the insect world, the wasp. In Endless Forms: The Secret World of Wasps she shows how wasps are older, cleverer and more diverse than their evolutionary new-comer the bee. And she makes the case that they hold hidden treasures of relevance to human culture, survival and health, and one species even taught us how to make paper. Producer: Katy Hickman