Saturday, November 06, 2004

Extreme Primates

A little primatology news...

Super-gorillas spotted in Africa

From the article:
Shelly Williams, a primatologist affiliated to the renowned Jane Goodall Institute, has revealed her close - and chilling - encounter with the creatures in the current issue of New Scientist.

"We could hear them in the trees, about 10m away, and four suddenly came rushing through the brush towards me. If this had been a mock charge they would have been screaming to intimidate us. These guys were quiet, and they were huge. They were coming in for the kill - but as soon as they saw my face they stopped and disappeared."

Indeed, as far back as 1898, there were hints of another large ape existing undetected in the Congo basin after a Belgian expedition returned from the region with three skulls. Initially, they looked similar to a known species - the Western Lowland Gorilla.

But there was something odd about them. The shape of the brow-ridges and jaw was different to that of a true gorilla, but they remained unidentified until 1996, when a Swiss journalist called Karl Ammann decided to go in search of these "lost gorillas" of the Congo.

He travelled to a place more than 700km from the known ranges of either mountain or lowland gorilla, and met locals who told him strange tales. They spoke of a huge, ferocious ape which was capable of hunting - and killing - lions.

Furthermore, the animals' behaviour towards people was baffling: "Gorilla males will always charge when they encounter a hunter, but there were no stories like that," Ammann says. Instead, these apes would come face-to-face with their human cousins, stare intently in half-recognition, then slide away quietly. No aggression, yet no fear either.

Williams believes these creatures could be a new subspecies of chimpanzee, a gorilla-chimp hybrid, or they could be a wholly new species. There is probably no biological reason why chimps and gorillas could not mate and produce viable offspring.

At present, only eight of these fascinating creatures have been seen by scientists, and none has been captured for study.

Whatever they are, they are fortunate to be living in one of the world's most remote places, and yet unfortunate enough to be threatened by one of the world's nastiest civil wars.

It would be a tragic irony if these creatures, so new to science, are hunted to extinction before they are properly studied.

Isn't this stuff fascinating?

It makes me wonder about the legendary "Bigfoot"... could an intelligent "super primate" conceal its existence from humanity? A quick glance at our current state of social existence suggests that we humans are just not all that intelligent when it comes to "big picture" thinking. Our ontological arrogance blinds us from the true reality of "conscious" or "intelligent" life on Earth.

The more we learn about life on Earth, the more we realize that we are not alone...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure what you mean when you connect the terms "ontological" and "arrogant." Ontology is the study of being (itself) , not beings and their categories. It is often confused with metaphysics (first principles), which is les defineable. When you say "ontological arrogance" I don't know what you mean. What do you mean?

4:14 PM  
Blogger sourmonkey said...

Thanks for the good question. I've used such phrases in the past, usually as word toys, but nonetheless, I mean what I said.

Anthropologist have determined that humans are primates. yet, most humans have yet to grasp this idea. We humans love to use labels to define the things in our universe, but we rarely look beyond the meaning of our arbitrary labels to understanding the deeper nature of things.

By ontological arrogance, I'm implying that humans have a self-centered and misrepresentation idea of who we are as beings. I abstained from using the term "existential arrogance" because I'm not questioning the nature of human existence, but rather, the nature of who we THINK we are.

Does this make sense?

4:50 PM  
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12:09 AM  

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