NewsIn Battle

From War to Peace

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Science  18 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6083, pp. 841
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6083.841

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Animals from dung beetles to chimpanzees fight each other, but the ability to reconcile differences after a spat was once considered a uniquely human trait. Then in the 1970s while observing chimpanzees at a zoo in the Netherlands, ethologist Frans de Waal witnessed a male attacking a female. Immediately, other males came to her rescue, and soon afterward, amid hooting by the troop, the male and female embraced. In 1979, he published a paper documenting that after a fight, a whole lot of kissing, embracing, and holding hands went on between chimp opponents. De Waal called this behavior reconciliation, and researchers have since observed it in more than 30 primate species.