at the 13th Conference of the International Society for Human Ethology
5.-10. Aug. 1996, Vienna
Aspects of Human Ethology
Edited by: A. Schmitt, K. Atzwanger, K. Grammer, K. Schäfer
Plenum Press, New York 1997
Hunting or following each other
: Origins of mimetic skills?
Donald (Origins of die modern mind 1991 ) described a phase
of mimetic skills in hominid primate development. Taking evolutionary
psychology seriously and looking back along the line of vertebrates
that has led towards man, several steps in "mimicking"
behaviors can be shown. Hunting another animal involves, on the
side of the hunter, a sensory part (watching the behavior of the
prey) and a motor part ( following the path or trajectory of the
prey). Simultaneously, on the side of the prey, behavior of the
predator is watched (sensory part), direction and speed of his movements
will influence flight movements (motor part). Given in general that,
starting with the first fish ancestors, most of all vital object-related
behavior was on mobile, animated objects (prey and predator animals,
competing animals, partners, other conspecifics), hunting was among
the first action tasks in vertebrate phylogeny. Let us look closer
into interactive "following" behavior: motor patterns
of the one feed directly into sensory patterns of the other thereby
steering the motor patterns of the latter, which will in turn feed
into sensory patterns of the first. The remaining environment "behaves"
in much more predictable ways: physical structures give contrast
and support. The coupled, better crossed sensory-motor system between
partners of interaction may not only have been the first mimicking-type
behavior but represent one of the minimum-essential nervous functions.
Brains always develop(ed) together!
Abstract (on Poster)
German word for mimetic behavior is "Nachmachen" (aping).
Humans can store watched behavior and reproduce it at will e.g.
pantomime. For animals, true imitation is difficult to show, most
animals lack a mobile face and our free arm/hand/finger-system.
Hunting is mimetic because the trajectory of one individual's body
is made anew by another individuals body with a specific distance
and time delay. Hunting is original because locomotion is the most
ancient and widespread of all vertebrate behaviors.
Detail (on Poster)
Interdependences between interacting nervous systems
Hunting or following each other is
(1) dyadic (most often)
(2) interactive: sensory and motor patterns of two individuals overlap
(3) intra- or interspecies