CHIMPJeffJMitchell:Getty

A reader writes:

New research supports the view that:

"If you take the promiscuity that is the main feature of chimp society, and replace it with pair bonding, you get many of the most important features of human society," he said." -- 'he' being "Bernard Chapais, a primatologist at the University of Montreal, in his book “Primeval Kinship” (2008).

Dr. Chapais showed how a simple development, the emergence of a pair bond between male and female, would have allowed people to recognize their relatives, something chimps can do only to a limited extent. When family members dispersed to other bands, they would be recognized and neighboring bands would cooperate instead of fighting to the death as chimp groups do."

But there's more to it than that...

"Michael Tomasello, a psychologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, said the survey provided a strong foundation for the view that cooperative behavior, as distinct from the fierce aggression between chimp groups, was the turning point that shaped human evolution. If kin selection was much weaker than thought, Dr. Tomasello said, “then other factors like reciprocity and safeguarding one’s reputation have to be stronger to make cooperation work.”

An evolutionary bias towards 'morality'? To match the obvious bias towards increasing intelligence?

Richard Dawkins, call your office.

(Photo:A chimpanzee at Edinburgh Zoo looks up at the new ?5.65 million pound enclosure, the world's largest at 1500 square feet, which can hold up to 40 chimpanzees May 1, 2008 in Scotland. By Jeff J Mitchell/Getty.)

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