Penn SocialWashington, DC, United States

Profs & Pints DC: How Friendship Evolved in Nature

By Profs and Pints (other events)

Monday, April 22 2024 6:00 PM 8:30 PM EDT

Profs and Pints DC presents: “How Friendship Evolved in Nature,” an Earth Day talk on the biological origins of our social bonds, with Riva Riley, affiliate assistant professor of biology at the University of Maryland at College Park, stand-up comedian, and zoologist who researches animal behavior.

When we think about the natural world, we often tend to think of brutal competition to survive and reproduce. Yet within this harsh reality often arise close social bonds. In their own way even fish have friends, even bugs have buddies.

Join zoologist Riva Riley on an evolutionary journey to explore how friendship emerged in animal behavior and how social bonds radically transformed species, including our own. We will learn how the behavior of cows and horses, guppies and catfish, primates and dolphins, and even snakes sheds light on the evolutionary forces that shaped our own species, which is so defined by the company we keep.

Professor Riley will discuss the paradox of how species in a dog-eat-dog world evolved to be cooperative, altruistic, and even loving. You’ll learn how creative evolutionary solutions to survival and reproduction can snowball, and how grudging aggregations of animals can eventually evolve into complex societies consisting of networks of social bonds.

The story of how humans became what we are is intertwined with the evolutionary histories of the animal kingdom. Examining how friendship evolved gives us crucial insight into our own behavior and needs, and why we do what we do and feel what we feel. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)

Image: Bonobos at play. Photo by Eric Kilby / Creative Commons.