Emoape

“equal parts dolphin, Dalai Lama, and Warren Beatty” – Ian Parker on the bonobo’s hippie image and the truth about “the hot, damp work of sneaking up on reticent apes”

For a quite entertaining piece on a comparison of the ‘nicest ape’-image the bonobo has been fitted with since being acknowledged as a separate species and the tedious work of field research on that complex species, see Ian Parkers 2007 article in the New Yorker: Swingers.

And next time you see a bonobo: guard your fingers and toes.

A big thank you to Florens for finding this!

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A primatologist told me...

Misogynist quote of the day

“The very fact that the animal is so intelligent in human terms makes it difficult to withhold human response. This is particularly true with women researchers, and especially those who are childless. There comes an overwhelming need to protect. When this happens, look out, objectivity goes. Then scientific credibility goes.”

An unnamed California primatologist on Dian Fossey in a 1986 Life-article by Harold T. P. Hayes, quoted in: Brian E. Noble: Politics, Gender, and Worldly Primatology: The Goodall-Fossey Nexus. In: Shirley C. Strum / Linda Marie Fedigan (Ed.), Primate Encounters. Models of Science, Gender, and Society. Chicago 2000, pp.436-462.

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Aping Culture

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Yes, yes, like most primatologists and researchers into primatology, I am excited about “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” coming to cinemas so soon. (I watched all through the original franchise and the Tim Burton remake and fairly enjoyed the primatology-informed “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, if only for the excellent chimping by Andy Serkis aka King Kong aka Gollum. On a side note: Try watching the movie without subtitles in the Ameslan-scenes. Even if apes learned to communicate on a wide scale with sign language, I wouldn’t understand a thing…) By the looks of it, there will this time surely be a lot of ‘Othering’ to make my little postcolonial critic’s heart quiver with unease. Ingeniously, though, the team around director Mark Reeves is creatively reusing footage, that “Rise”‘s director Rupert Wyatt had collected as research material, see this for example:

and compare it to the newest trailer for “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, ca. 1:20.

Of course, the machine gun wielding chimpanzee juvenile in the research footage doesn’t really screem ‘evil menace’ just as much, so the movie version is – in true fashion of the Planet of the Apes enterprise – of course a very ugly, battered antagonist type (as was the king of the ape ‘refuge’ in “Rise”, Tim Roth’s Thade in Tim Burton’s remake, and most of the gorilla fiends in the original franchise). Then again, most apes in human ‘usage’ end up being ugly, battered and mentally unsound (see: Planet of the Retired Apes, New York Times Magazine).

Anyway, back in the two decades when Planet of the Apes was on hold, another clever franchise used the uncanny resemblance of monkeys and apes to humans to threaten human (and probably simian) sensibilities – this time of the culinary kind. Oh yes, you know what I mean: “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984). Monkey brain as ‘desert’, served at an Indian dinner party that defies all, virtually all of what Indian cuisine is about (ah, first quiver…), but sparking a fascination with the dish that persists amazingly well (see for example the wikipedia lemma). So well in fact, that someone designed the tableware to recreate the meal: Monkey Head bowls. Who would have thought.

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Informational

All the little tidbits I collect here on this blog are basically afterthoughts, secondary ideas, weird or hilarious findings, or just random associations to the dissertation I am writing. If you are at all interested in what could possibly trigger such a load of useless information and absurd musings, there is good news: Our Swiss website for the project my dissertation takes part in. For now it is only in German, but lets face it, for most of you, that should not be much of a problem. http://www.affekte.unibe.ch/

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The Art of Eating

Too much summer and work to make this blog a more frequent output of my findings. But today, a short note on eating habits: Apparently, among primates everything is, well, fair game. Fruits and vegetables, of course (almost all of us). Leaves, oh yum, (a lot of us, especially the mountain gorillas and humans). Insects, well, yes (come on, everybody does it, and be it the odd bug on your salad leaf). Smaller vertebrates, ok. Larger vertebrates, ehm, if you need to… (baboons, chimpanzees and humans)? But then: Bark (Japanese macaques, gorillas, humans). Rotten fish, spat out by the see (Japanese macaques). Octopus straight from the sea (again, Japanese macaques). Own feces (gorillas). Conspecifics’ kids (chimpanzees: proven, gorillas: suspected, humans: at least in fairy tales).

Further reading on this menu: Dian Fossey: Gorilla’s in the Mist (1985); W.C. McGrew: Culture in Nonhuman Primates? Annual Review of Anthropology, 27 (1998); Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm: Hänsel und Gretel (1812); Jane Goodall: In the Shadow of Man (1971); Desmond Morris: The Naked Ape (1967); Naofumi Nakagawa, Masayuki Nakamichi, Hideki Sugiura (Ed.): The Japanese Macaques (2010); Shirley C. Strum: Almost Human (1987); Richard Wrangham, Dale Peterson: Demonic Males (1996).

 

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Did you know?

The Art of Eating

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Philographics

I appreciate complexity in its various forms but Genis Carreras’ Philographics are ingenious. Yes, sometimes it is as simple as that.

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Philographics

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