The evolution of play in monkeys and humans

Dario Maestripieri

The evolution of play in monkeys and humans

may sat 28, 2016 - 15.00
teatro Bolognini - Via del Presto, 5
 admission euro 3.00

The study of play in animals has shown this behaviour can lack specific functions, or it can facilitate the development of sensory perception, motor, social and cognitive skills. For example, young monkeys use play to acquire skills that will be useful as adults when hunting, avoiding predators, fighting with members of their own species, sexual courtship or parenting. Indeed, play can help develop social relations with specific individuals who will play an important role in adult life. Some functions of play in monkeys can also be applied to humans, and indeed, there are similarities, but what drives these affinities? The codes of our behaviours are the result of millions of years of evolution, as Dario Maestripieri explains.

Dario Maestripieri (1964) is a professor of evolutionary biology and comparative human development at the University of Chicago in America. Having obtained his Ph.D. in Psychobiology at the University of Rome La Sapienza he moved to the US in 1992. He has studied the biological and evolutionary bases of social behaviour in humans and monkeys for around 30 years. He has published more than 200 scientific articles and is the author of five books, the most recent of which, Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships, was published in Italy in 2014, under the title A Che Gioco Giochiamo Noi Primati, (Raffaello Cortina Editore). He has won various awards, including the B. Grassi from the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei as the best young investigator in the field of Zoology in 1991, and the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award in 2001. He collaborates with the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and New Scientist.