What We Don’t Know About Bonobo(s)

25 07 2007

And while reading the New Yorker, make time for this new story too —  contemplate it in front of a fan, maybe over a julep?

In the far distance, such lines of inquiry may converge at an understanding of bonobo evolution, Hohmann said, and, beyond, the origins of human beings.

“It’s a long path, and, because it’s long, there are few people who do it. . . A student working with bonobos can close his eyes and pick a topic, and it can’t be wrong.”

. . .The bonobo fell out of the view of scientists at the very moment that the public discovered an interest. In 1991, National Geographic sent Frans Lanting, a Dutch photographer, to photograph bonobos at Wamba.
. . .“I became sure that the boundaries between apes and humans were very fluid,” he said. “You can’t call them animals. I prefer ‘creatures.’ It was haunting, the way they knew as much about you as you knew about them.” It became his task, he later told Frans de Waal, “to show how close we are to bonobos, and they to us.”

And if you really get into it, you’ll be rewarded with quotes like this one (that might explain a lot about third-millennium schooled teen behavior as well as bonobos?) —

Captivity can have a striking impact on animal behavior. As Craig Stanford, a primatologist at the University of Southern California, recently put it, “Stuck together, bored out of their minds—what is there to do except eat and have sex?”



8 responses

26 07 2007

//“Stuck together, bored out of their minds—what is there to do except eat and have sex?”//

Have they tried giving them cellphones?

26 07 2007
Not June Cleaver

Lynn, you may be on to something!

26 07 2007

Good idea, let’s play “if bonobos were teens!”

What if we give ’em silver abstinence rings, would they become less um, active?. . . this culture control stuff is all connected and Bill O’Reilly said on my radio this week that “strict” is another word for love —

True love waits. Just say no. If it won’t work with apes, maybe we’ll learn it won’t work with humans either, no matter what Bill O’Reilly believes.

(And if we send over other trappings of teen culture, will the bonobos need some young adult banned books too, just to cope?)

26 07 2007

Btw, O’Reilly wasn’t talking about sex when he made that comment. He was talking about food, literally forcing children to choose between going hungry for days on end, or finally eating the chicken and broccoli you set before them over and over.

Young Son is a committed vegetarian (who doesn’t eat vegetables either — he just won’t eat animals, on principle.) He would quietly waste away first and I think our close relationship would too, if I tried to break his will by dominating him in the name of strictness as love, parenting as “captivity” where:

“What is there to do except eat and have sex?”

26 07 2007
Thursday Book Notes « Laelaps

[…] Last night I finished Our Inner Ape, and to be honest I didn’t find it especially impressive. . . humans are a “Janus Head” that combines the aggressiveness (even at times bloodthirstiness) of chimpanzees and the more social/sexual habits of bonobos. de Waal does note that each species works on its own continuum and rightly notes that despite notions like American individualism we are a highly social species (one of the worst punishments is isolated confinement or banishment), but he seems to present a bit of a false dichotomy between chimpanzees and bonobos[…]

26 07 2007
Not June Cleaver

A vegetarian that doesn’t eat vegetables? Hmmmmm.

26 07 2007

And a homeschooler who doesn’t school, and isn’t home much. . . 🙂

28 05 2010

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