Monday, February 9

Of Chimpanzees and tools

I chanced upon these amazing videos and must say it humbled me. I believe that animals are not just dumb creatures and these simply vindicate the point. The related piece on National Geographic is also very insightful.

"I had not known that chimpanzee yawns are contagious—both among each other and to humans. I had known that chimps laugh, but I did not know that they get upset if someone laughs at them. I knew that captive chimps spit, but I hadn't known that they, like us, seem to consider spitting the most extreme expression of disgust—one reserved, interestingly, for humans. I knew that a captive ape might care for a kitten if you gave one to it, but had not heard of a wild chimpanzee taking one in, as Tia did with a genet kitten. The list goes on. Chimps get up to get snacks in the middle of the night. They lie on their backs and do "the airplane" with their children. They kiss. Shake hands. Pick their scabs before they're ready."

Though Mary Roach warns that "because chimps look and act so much like us, it is easy to misread their actions and expressions, to project humanness where it may not belong," it difficult to not to. I remember watching a Nature episode The Best of Nature: 25 Years on PBS and it is difficult to express the emotions it stirred. The part about the rehabilitated research chimps is extremely touching to say the least. I couldn't find the exact video but it is a must watch.

Here is the other video from BBC which shows the chimpanzees using rocks as an anvil and hammer to break nuts. I remember breaking walnuts like that and most of them usually rolled over or broke into a million pieces, unfit to be eaten!

It amazes to watch the chimpanzees in action. It is beautiful and scary all at once.


Ashutosh said...

Great piece, thanks for the link. Animals never cease to amaze, that's for sure. And as you indicated, "humbling" is the right word. I just wish more us were humbled this way.

Manasi said...

Ashutosh: Thanks. Would have made an even timely post for Darwin's birthday though.