Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Monkey news

Those of you who've listened to Ricky Gervais' podcast in the past might understand why monkey news was my favorite section. I've always had an uneasy fascination with monkeys and great apes. On the one hand I find it amazing that these species are so close to us, and I marvel at their behaviour and what it can teach us about ourselves. On the other hand I'm suspicious of anything that may be related to us. In fact I fear great apes more than I would fear a lion, because both can physically overpower me, but the ape may actually be able to outsmart me too.
One topic we've discussed in the past is human rights and whether they should apply to our closest cousin. I find mildly amusing that we try to download our values to other species, when even amongst human societies we can't agree on universal rules. I know monkeys and apes have a sense of fairness, but do they have a sense of morality, and does that even make sense to non-human animals. So keep that in mind as you explore the links of monkey news:

1) The first is a rather graphic video of a love affair between a chimp and a frog. Most people I've shown this to reacted rather strongly to it. If you can't watch it, I might point out that the frog looks rather unharmed even if it might not have been quite consenting. My question is : is this depravity. Is the chimp doing something wrong?

2) I'm always surprised that more people don't know about the bonobo societies and their "make love not war" attitude. Unlike their more violent cousins the pan troglodytes (who wage wars, and uses spears) the bonobo (pan paniscus) resolve conflicts within a group mostly via bonding from sex. I'll forever have the images imprinted on my mind of the video I saw in high school biology showing chimp orgies which included masturbation, oral, homosexual, pedophilia and incest. A recent report shows that chimps also like hugs: "The research is said to provide the first evidence that consolation in primates, such as hugging and stroking, can reduce stress levels after a fight. The behaviour could indicate some level of empathy, Dr Orlaith Fraser told the British Association Science Festival."


The Key Question said...

Counterintuitively, war-making and ultraviolence seems to be correlated with reproductive success...

Gorillas ~ 70,000
Bonobos ~ 10,000
Chimpanzees ~ 150,000
Humans ~ 6,700,000,000

Anonymous said...

I guess that makes cockroaches and their insect kin vicious, warring motherfuckers.

maxelondon said...

that monkey/frog video gets funnier every time.

Anonymous said...

ive always been fascinated with apes aswell.. and oh my lord, that video is too funny, and a little too graphic!


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