Friday, July 24, 2009


From Thursday to Sunday I get two morning newspapers – the LA Times and the local Press Enterprise. Yesterday one of them had an article and picture showing a baby simian of some sort being tickled. The little guy did have a smile on his or her face, and the article reported that a study had been done on various baby simians which showed that they laughed like human babies do when they are tickled.

AHA! I thought to myself. And not being inclined toward creationism I added, “So there you have it!” And of course I immediately thought of using that in a blog. However, being of a somewhat forgetful nature in my old age, I tossed the paper out with the trash and forgot about it until this morning when I sat down to do my blog. Rats!

But in letting Google find the story for me to refresh my memory, I found that this article was printed by Manchester, England’s Guardian newspaper back on June 4. Made me wonder if the Editors of the newspaper I read it in yesterday had taken this long to decide on the appropriateness of printing such an article, thinking of its ramifications. You know how Puritan our society has become when it touches on creation vs. evolution.

Well, I don’t think the article made any definite pronouncements. But in reading the online story there were still a few points worth noting. It said that Davila Ross traveled to seven zoos around Europe and to a wildlife reserve in Borneo in order to record baby and juvenile apes while their caretakers tickled them. She said that tickling is a very important part of the caretakers’ playing with the apes, and that there are certain body parts that are more ticklish than other. Armpits and feet were two of those parts. (Sound familiar?)

If you are a creationist, then it will please you to know although it was true that the little guys laughed, it did not sound at all like human laughing. Seems humans only laugh on exhaling, whereas simians laugh both exhaling and inhaling. And according to Robert Provine, a psychologist and a neuroscientist at the U of Maryland, he reported that he and his students did some similar studies and likened chimp laughter to the sounds of “a dog panting, an asthma attack or hyperventilation. Some even thought the noise was caused by someone sawing.” Which then made me think of Jerry’s snoring. (Is that relevant?)

Well, I didn’t really come up to any definite conclusion about simian laughter, other than it was a very funny study report. However, the article ended with another illustration of simian behavior that is worth reporting:

Seems a chimp in a Swedish zoo had started to challenge scientists’ views about the unique nature of human behavior. “The 31-year-old male chimp, Santino, regularly displayed thuggish behavior by preparing piles of rocks while the zoo was closed and then lobbing them at visitors when the gates opened. The chimp has since been castrated.”

As my daughter Kerry so aptly remarks about things, “So there you go!”

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