Dolphins, Chimps, and Man

Douglas Adams:

Man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons.

University of Michigan:

Chimps more evolved than humans

(via Our Michigan)


  1. I don’t understand why ‘more genes have changed’ equates to ‘more evolved’. It might equate to ‘more different’. But surely the whole point of genetics and evolution is that small changes can have big consequences? For example, what if the genes which give us a big brain, which allow us to form language, are only few in number? That doesn’t mean that they are somehow inconsequential. It’s the effects that the genes have that determine the magnitude of the evolutionary steps, especially in combination, not the sheer number of them, surely. Still, it is interesting to know. By the way, how are we sure that the Macacque monkey is a common ancestor and not an offshoot?

  2. This was at the University of Michigan. There is a virtually endless list of Juan Cole jokes to be made about this. Normally, Murdoc wouldn’t condone such childish things, but if anyone has a good one, post it here…

  3. Isn’t ‘more highly evolved’ a little misleading? I mean, I thought evolution dealt with organisms adapting to their environments as they needed to, not who won the prize for most ‘positively selected genes’.

  4. More highly evolved, meaning they don’t have drugs like this that mask the effects of unsuccessful genetic mutations.

  5. I thought ‘more evloved’ means ‘more specialized.’ Humans are generalists with big brains who can modify behavior to suit an environment – not our bodies. Unlike most other species, we no longer need to evlove to cope with different environments.

  6. It does not really mean more specialized. In the context of that study it means mutations that continued because they were successful vs. random mutations. Look at the issue of intelligence vs. birthrate in this country. If you’re more intelligent, your birthrate is lower. What do you think that’s doing to our genetic code? Nothing good, I can assure you. Similarly if you are an athlete or an actor, you have a privileged place in our society, but if you’re a scientist or engineer you are a loser. This despite the fact that no human athlete, not even one on steroids and hgh, is any competition at all to a mountain lion. They’re more like a slow moving meat snack in a shiny wrapper, and the way we over came our status as prey to get to the top of the food chain was through our use of our massive brains to fashion weapons. Not that I’m bitter or anything…