For humans, it’s pretty much crucial to be able to manage social interactions. Some scientists think that’s actually why we’re intelligent–that our ancestors evolved big brains because having a big brain meant you could navigate your social world better and have more babies. (That’s the essence of natural selection right there. The stuff that makes you have more babies is the stuff that sticks.)
You can’t really test this with primates in real life–you’d need thousands of years. But this week for ScienceNOW I wrote about an alternative: a computer simulation of brain evolution. Science writers generally stay away from modeling papers, but I thought this one was worth writing about.