One of the amazing things I’ve learned from watching Oliver grow is how children are so adept at recognizing and embracing other children. It’s like there’s a secret society of children, and all children are members, and there are certain things — burbles, nuances, little pieces of body language — that can only be understood by members.

When Oliver and I are out in public, he can spot someone else under 5 years old from across a room, and will give a secret wave; often they’ll wave back.

While all of this is endearing, and interesting to watch, I wonder what evolutionary advantage this behaviour offers? Perhaps children bonded to other children in a world of strange self-involved warring adults have a better chance of survival?


Oliver Baker's picture
Oliver Baker on December 31, 2002 - 03:40 Permalink

Well, I think evolutionary biology types talk about the importance of play in making many kinds of mammals fit for the field. With the exception of one’s mum, I suppose one is a lot less likely to get squooshed playing with someone one’s own age, which would be a selective advantage, and so behaviors conducive to recruiting potential playmates might be expected to be advantageous too.

Ritchie Simpson's picture
Ritchie Simpson on December 31, 2002 - 14:17 Permalink

Childhood is magic not science

Alan's picture
Alan on December 31, 2002 - 14:52 Permalink

I think the real question is why do we stop waving.

vanitha's picture
vanitha on April 8, 2004 - 06:43 Permalink

not bad