“A Zoologist’s Study of the Human animal” This is how Morris describes the book.
Having been published in 1967, the book has some old feeling to it but it is a must read if you are interested in human origins or human behavior in general. So many things that we do today, in modern world, was coded in our brains thousands of years ago. By examining our ancestors, besides other animals, Morris had a very clear image of who we actually are: Naked Apes.
I would like to give some insight about the author first: Desmond John Morris (born 24 January 1928) is an English zoologist, ethologist and surrealist painter, as well as a popular author in human sociobiology. He is known for his 1967 book The Naked Ape, and for his television programs such as Zoo Time. He studied zoology at the University of Birmingham and he got his PhD degree in animal behavior, at the University of Oxford.
Morris makes my job way easier and divides his book into 8 major parts: Origins, Sex, Rearing, Exploration, Fighting, Feeding, Comfort, Animals. I intend to follow his path in this review. What is most striking about his style is that he can describe a process in a very detailed way. He first starts the chapter with the observations he made on animals, after detailed descriptions, he explains how we see these traits in humans as well, then he makes his own comments on the subject. Some of them are well known facts but some of them are extremely surprising. Especially the ‘Fighting’ ‘Comfort’ and ‘Animals’ parts were interesting since I learned a lot of new things.
In this review you will find out:
- Why are we naked in comparison to other primates?
- Why do we hate snakes and spiders?
- During a fight which one is an indicator of danger?: Your enemy’s face turning white or red?
- Why do babies smile?
- Why stares are intimidating?
- Do we coded for monogamy or polygamy?
- And more…
‘Naked Ape’ (aka Homo Sapiens) is an odd kind when compared with the other primate species, marked off by his nudity from all the thousands of hairy, shaggy or furry land-dwelling mammalian species.
It is the biological nature of the beast that has molded the social structure of civilization, rather than the other way around. Only the names have been changed: for ‘hunting’ read ‘working’, for ‘hunting grounds’ read ‘place of business’, for ‘home base’ read ‘house’ for ‘pair bond’ read ‘marriage’, for ‘mate’ read ‘wife’ , and so on.
This chapter in the book starts with explaining how due to the climatic conditions apes were forced to become hunters rather than fruit pickers. The ancestral ground apes already had large and high quality brains. They had good eyes** and efficient grasping hands. They inevitably, as primates, had some degree of social organization. With strong pressure on them to increase their prey-killing skills vital changes began to take place. They became more upright-fast, better runners. Their hands became freed from locomotion duties – strong, efficient weapon holders. Their brains became more complex – brighter quicker decision makers.
It could be argued that evolution might have favored the development of a more typical cat- or dog- like killer, a kind of cat-ape or dog-ape, by the simple process of enlarging the teeth and nails into savage fang-like and claw-like weapons. But this would have put the ancestral ground ape into direct competition with the already highly specialized cat and dog killers. It would have meant competing with them on their own term, and the outcome would no doubt have been disastrous for the primates.
The forest ape that became a ground ape that became a hunting ape that became a territorial ape that became a cultural ape and we must call a temporary halt.
**The sensory equipment of the higher primates is much more dominated by the sense of vision than the sense of smell. In their tree-climbing world, seeing well is far more important than smelling well, and the snouts shrunk considerably giving the eyes a much better view. In searching for food, the colors of fruits are helpful clues, and unlike the carnivores, primates have evolved a good color vision.
Socially the hunting ape had to increase his urge to communicate and to co-operate with his fellows. Facial expressions and vocalizations had to become more complicated. With the new weapons to hand, he had to develop powerful signals that would inhibit attacks within the social group. On the other hand, with a fixed home base to defend, he had to develop stronger aggressive responses to the members of rival groups.
A new development, for the general primate rule is that virtually all parental care comes from the mother (It is only a wise primate, like our hunting ape, that knows its own father).
Because of the extremely long period of dependency of the young and the heavy demands made by them, the females found themselves almost constantly confined to the home base. In this respect the hunting ape’s new way of life threw up a special problem, one that it did not share with the typical pure carnivores: the role of the sexes had to become more distinct. The hunting parties, unlike those of the ‘pure’ carnivores, had to become all male groups. If anything was going to go against the primate grain, it was this. For a vigorous primate male to go off on a feeding trip and leave his females unprotected from the advances of any other males that might happen to come by, was unheard of. This was something that demanded a major shift in the social behavior.
Male- Female Bond
Male and female hunting apes had to fall in love and remain faithful to one another. This is a common tendency in many other group of animals but it is rare among primates. This shift helped many things: Serious sexual rivalries between the males were reduced. This aided their developing cooperativeness. Also with the newly developed weapons, the hunting ape was under strong pressure to reduce any source of disharmony within the tribe. The last effect was on the little hunting apes. The heavy task of rearing and training the slowly developing young demanded a cohesive family unit. With the male-female bond (monogamous) this unity was formed.
Why on earth should the haunting ape have become a naked ape? We can be fairly certain that it did not happen before our ancestors left their forest homes. It probably happened while they were on the open plains. There are several theories for our nakedness, let’s have a look at them briefly:
- Neoteny: To continue to possess some larval or immature characteristics in adulthood. If you examine an infant chimpanzee at birth (after exactly 8.5-9 months, like us) you will find that it has a good head of hair, but that its body is almost naked (see the picture above). If this condition was delayed into the animal’s adult life by neoteny, the adult chimpanzee’s hair condition would be very much like hours. BUT unless it had some special value to the new species, it would be quickly dealt with by natural selection. So why did it stay? Here are some other theories:
- What is the survival value of naked skin? When the hunting ape abandoned its nomadic past and settled down at fixed home bases, its dens became heavily infested with skin parasites. Also, such messy feeding habits that a furry coat would soon become clogged and messy would create a disease risk. There are hundreds of species who lost their hair during evolution due to this problem.
- Another theory is that development of fire led the loss of the hairy coat since hunting ape felt cold only at night and fire was handling the problem.
- This theory is very interesting: Before becoming a hunting ape, the original ground ape that had left the forests went through a long phase as an aquatic ape in search of food. Close examination reveals that on our backs the directions of our tiny remnant hairs differ strikingly from those other apes. In us, they point diagonally backwards and inwards towards the spine. This follows the direction of flow of the water passing over a swimming body. So the idea that we might have lost our body hair to reduce resistance when swimming. Also, we are unique among all the primates in being the only one to possess a thick layer of sub-cutaneous fat, a compulsory insulating device. Even sensitive nature of our hands support the aquatic theory: Because it takes a subtle sensitized hand to feel for food in the water
- Another argument that we lost hair because it was a social trend; it arose as a signal. Hunting ape wanted to look different to be easily identified.
- Another suggestion is that the loss of hair is an extension of sexual signalling. Sensitivity to touch was sexually important and by exposing their naked skins to one another during sexual encounters, both male and female would become more highly sensitized to erotic stimuli.
- The last suggestion, if you ask me, was the weakest one that was argued. Hunting ape lost hair to prevent himself from being over-heated. Exposure of the naked skin to the air certainly increases the chances of the heat loss, but it also increases heat gain at the same time and risks damage from the sun’s rays.
It is a confusing situation for today’s naked ape: As primates they are pulled one way, as carnivores by adoption they are pulled another, and as members of an elaborate civilized community, they are pulled yet another.
The female of our species has to reach the age of twenty nine before she can match the orgasm rate of the fifteen-year old male.
Why do we want to build our own family?
During the long, growing years, the young hunting ape will have had the chance to develop a deep personal relationship with his parents, a relationship much more powerful and lasting than anything a young monkey could experience. The loss of this parental bond with maturation and independence would create a ‘relationship void’ – a gap that had to be filled. He would therefore already be primed for the development of a new equally powerful bond to replace it.
Other primate females do not pair with their male partners during their pregnancy but the naked ape does: because with one male- one female system, it would be dangerous to frustrate the male for too long a period. It might endanger the pair bond.
Why our lips are inside-out?
All primates have lips but not turned inside-out like ours. Giving a kiss on the lips is a greeting signal for the chimpanzee.
Kiss is both greeting and a sexual one for the naked ape. Why?: Sexual arousal produces some physical changes in the body; a swelling and reddening of the lips, and the clear demarcation of this area (the line between your lower lip and upper lip and the line around your lips) are shaped in a way that they become more recognizable. Even in their un-aroused condition, they are redder than the rest of the face skin simply by their very existence, they will act as advertising signals drawing attention to the presence of a tactile sexual structure.
Another supporting fact to this is that if climatic conditions demand a darker skin, then this will work agains the visual signalling capacity of the lips by reducing their color contrast. If they really are important as visual signals, what they have lost in color contrast, they have made up for in size and shape by becoming larger and more protuberant.
Monogamy or polygamy?
If the violent hunting life results in adult males becoming scarcer than females, there will be a tendency for some of the surviving males to form pair bonds with more than one female. However, this will bring home the problem since the female won’t want to share him with somebody else. To have a peaceful relationship with his hunting mates, a peaceful family life at the home base, to keep the peace in the group, naked apes evolved to be monogamous.
We can sum up by saying that, whatever obscure backward tribal units are doing today, the mainstream of our species express its pair-bonding character in its most extreme form, namely long-term monogamous mating.
Our Smell Preferences
Before puberty, there are strong preferences for sweet and fruity odors, but with the arrival of sexual maturity this response falls off and there is a dramatic shift in favor of flowery, oily and musky odors. This applies to both sexes, but the increase in musk responsiveness is stronger in males than females.
If the old primate patterns are left unmodified, the adult male will soon drive out the young males (his sons) and mate with the young females . These will then become part of the family unit as additional breeding females along with their mother, and we shall be right back where we started. But this wouldn’t work anymore for the new cooperative hunting ape. Because of its home-base needs and female-male bond that already improved, as the children reach puberty, they set off to establish a new breeding base and find their mate themselves.
Where did the urge for covering our genitals come from?
If sexuality had to be heightened to keep the pair together, then steps must have been taken to damp it down when the pair were apart, to avoid the over-stimulation of third parties. Because of their vertical posture it is impossible for a naked ape to approach another member of his species without performing a genital display. The covering of the genital region with some simple kind of garment must have been an early cultural development.
ABNORMAL or NORMAL sexual behavior?
If outside matings conflict too strongly with the pair bond, then some less harmful substitute for them has to be found. The solution has been ‘voyeurism’ meaning obtaining sexual excitement from watching other individuals copulating.
There is nothing biologically unusual about a homosexual act of pseudo-copulation. But the formation of a homosexual pair bond is re-productively unsound, since it cannot lead to the production of offspring and wastes potential breeding adults. One theory is that under serious over-crowding with no signs of any easing up in the immediate future, anti-reproductive sexual patterns must obviously be considered in a new light.
If either males or females cannot for some reason obtain sexual access to their opposite numbers, they will find sexual outlets in other ways. They may use other members of their own sex. or they may even use members of other species, or they may masturbate.
If the naked ape is trying to breast feed her baby and the baby doesn’t want it, there are two possible reasons:
- Nipple is not protruding far enough into the baby’s mouth.
- It is failing because it is being suffocated.
This is caused by the anatomy of the human female breast. Other female primates has much longer shape and does not swell out into the great rounded hemisphere that causes so much difficulty for the baby. This is because for our species, breast design is primarily sexual rather than maternal in function.
Why we breast feed on the left side?
The mother, either instinctively or by an unconscious series of trials and errors, would soon arrive at the discovery that her baby is more at peace if held on the left, against her heart, than on the right.
This is why babies sleep better with a ticking metronome with a heart beat speed . This also may explain why we insist on locating feelings of love in the heart rather than the head. Also, we rock back and forth on our feet when we are in a state of conflict. rocking like a heart beat calms us down.
Voice and Crying
The astonishing fast rate of learning in the field of vocal imitation is unique to our species and must be considered as one of our greatest achievements. Chimpanzees are like us, brilliant at rapid manipulative imitation, but they cannot manage vocal imitations. This difference is a question of brain, not voice. The chimpanzee has a vocal apparatus that is structurally perfectly capable of making a wide variety of sounds. So do birds. But they are too bird-brained to make a good use of this ability.
By crying, the baby alerts its parents, the adult alerts the other members of its social group. There are two important factors to baby’s crying: physical pain (including hunger) and insecurity.
Laugh has evolved from crying: the crying infant has become segmented, chopped up into small pieces and at the same time has grown smoother an slower.
Laughing does not appear until the third or fourth month. Its arrival coincides with the development of the parental recognition. Smiling is a secondary form of laughing. It has become specialized as a species greeting signal. Any social contact is at best mildly fear-provoking. Both smile and the laugh indicate the existence of this fear and its combination with feelings of attraction and acceptance (Blogger’s note: Maybe this explains the nervous laugh and nervous smile! I have a strange story actually, when I heard that my grandfather died in a tragic traffic accident, I was devastated. I was the one who broke down the news to my mom, but while I was telling her the terrible news, I found myself smiling! I was thinking to myself: What the heck? Stop smiling! But it was uncontrollable, I couldn’t control it. Maybe it was my fear that smiling!).
Also the evolution of smile is the clinging that apes do but we can’t since we do not have any fur on our mother to cling to. A young chimpanzee screams its head off when it needs attention, like we do. Once his mother comes he clings to her showing that he wants his mother to stay. We do the same by smiling. We signal to our mother that we want her and her attention to stay by smiling.
We never stopped investigating: this is the greatest survival trick of our species. Experiments with monkeys have revealed that not only does isolation in infancy produce a socially withdrawn adult, but it also creates an anti-sexual and anti-parental individual.
Animals fight among themselves either to establish their dominance in a social hierarchy, or to establish their territorial rights over a particular piece of ground.
There is a rigidly established social hierarchy in most species of monkeys and apes, with a dominant male in charge of the group. When he becomes too old or weak to maintain his domination, he is overthrown by a younger, sturdier male, who then assumes the mantle of the colony boss.
The book explains the physical changes in our body during the preparation of a fight, which I’m not going to write here. Rather, I will share some interesting information.
When a mammal becomes aggressively aroused to fight a number of basic physiological changes occur within its body. The whole machine has to gear itself up for action by means of the autonomic nervous system. This system consists of two opposing and counterbalancing sub systems:
- The sympathetic system: the one that is concerned with preparing the body for violent activity. It says “You are stripped for action, get moving!”
- The parasympathetic system: the one that has the task of preserving and restoring bodily reserves. It says “Take it easy, relax and conserve your strength”
The enemy provokes fear as well as aggression. The aggression drives the animal on, the fear holds it back. The intense state of inner conflict arises. Typically, the animal that is aroused to fight doesn’t go straight into all-out attack. It begins by threatening to attack. If the enemy gets scared and leaves, then you win without shedding any blood. This is preferable.
In the tense state of conflict between aggression and fear, everything is suspended. The result is that parasympathetic system fights back wildly and the autonomic pendulum swings frantically back and forth. As the tense moments of threat and counter threat tick by, we see flashes of parasympathetic activity intermitted with the sympathetic symptoms. Dryness in the mouth may give way to excessive salivation. Tightening of the bowels may collapse and sudden defecation occurs. The urine, held back so strongly in the bladder, maybe released in a flood. The removal of the blood from the skin maybe massively reversed: extreme paleness being replaced by intense flushing and reddening. The deep and rapid respiration may be dramatically interrupted, leading to gasps and sighs. These are desperate attempts on the part of the parasympathetic system to counteract the apparent actions of sympathetic. This explains why in extreme cases of shock, fainting or swooning can be observed. In such instances blood that has been rushed to the brain is withdrawn again so violently that it leads to a sudden unconsciousness.
One of the side affects of an intense inner conflict is that animal sometimes exhibits strange and seemingly irrelevant behavior to show its fear + anger. There are so many variations to this in animal world. One of them that is similar to us is to indulge in ‘instant sleep’ momentarily tucking their heads into a snoozing position, yawning and stretching. The other one is scratching even though nothing is itching. Modern humans do this by rearranging ornaments (see below, 45. President of the USA’s behavior), lighting a cigarette, cleaning our glasses, looking at our watch, pouring a drink, etc. (Bloggers note: Also have you ever thought why we feel so sleepy while studying for our finals? That is our ‘instant sleep’ reaction to our fear.)
So what do animals do to show their enemy that they don’t want to fight anymore?
They either switch off the signals that have been arousing the aggression, or they switch on other, positively non aggressive signals. Because aggression involves violent movement, a static pose automatically signals non-aggression. Usually this is accompanied by crouching or cowering. Aggression involves expanding the body to its maximum size (look how the both men are opening their arms while threatening each other in the above video) and crouching reverses this . Facing away from the animal also helps.
In certain rare cases a loser will admit defeat by offering a vulnerable area to attacker. A chimpanzee for example, will hold out its hand as a gesture of submission. Modern human does this by a hand shake or raising our hands.
Sometimes they adopt juvenile begging postures which will talk to the enemy’s parental instincts. Modern human does this by adopting a ‘baby-talk’ that we see among couples.
The last thing the animal tries is grooming. A great deal of social or mutual grooming goes on in animal world and it is strongly associated with the calmer, ore peaceful moments of community life.
Human animal in Fight
We cannot intimidate our opponents, for example, by erecting our body hair. But we can go ‘white with rage’, ‘red with anger’, or ‘pale with fear’. It is the white color we have to watch for here: this means activity.If it is combined with other actions that signal attack, then it is a vital danger signal. If it is combined with other actions that signal fear, then it is a panic signal. The angry, red-faced opponent who faces you is far less likely to attack than the white-faced, tight lipped one. Red-face’s conflicts such that he is all bottled up and inhibited, but white face is still ready for action. White face is much more likely to spring in to the attack unless he is immediately appeased or counter-threatened even more strongly.
As naked apes, because our urge to attack and escape are both strongly activated simultaneously, we exhibit some characteristics movements. For example: raising of clenched fist or raising a hand, back and forth striking movements of the forearm. We blow our fist but at a safe distance form the opponent.
Naked ape make short approach-intention movements but repeatedly check themselves from going too far. maybe the stamped their feet or bring down their fists in any near-by object. This redirection activity happens a lot in animal world. Because the opponent is too frightening to be directly assaulted, the aggressive movements are redirected towards some other less intimidating object dor example a harmless bystander . Gorillas, chimpanzees frequently perform similar display, tearing up, smashing and throwing around branches and vegetation.
Watch the two men’s fight. It takes them about a minute to threaten each other (repeatedly check themselves from going too far). Their body move back and forth, they raise their hands up. You can easily see the guy with the green shirt’s face is turning red as the argument heats up. Also at the minute 0:30 by shooting the ball, actually he is redirecting his anger.
Our aggressive faces are the same with other primates, the more the urge to attack dominates the urge to flee, the more the face pulls itself forwards. If you are exposing your teeth, your forehead is wrinkling and eyebrows are raised, the fear is taking over.
The crouching of animals as a sign of defeat turns into groveling and prostrating in humans. The key signal here is the lowering of the body in relation to the dominant individual. When threatening, we puff ourselves up to our greatest height, making our bodies as tall and as large as possible. So submissive behavior must be the opposite. Like military salute; removing the hat actually a procedure of lowering the height of the body. Also the key feature here is the lowering of eyes. A direct stare is typical of the most out-and-out aggression.
Chimpanzees appease by holding out a limp hand towards the dominant individual, to show submission. We do the same gesture. It is our greeting gesture in the shape of a friendly hand shake. Friendly gestures often grow out of submissive ones.
The Power of Stare
During ordinary face-to-face conversations we typically look away from our companions when we are talking, then glance back at them at the end of each sentence, or ‘paragraph’, to check their response to what we have said. Even though a professor with much experience is in such a dominant position, there are so many students in the auditorium, all staring at him, that he experiences a basic and initially uncontrollable fear of them. Only after a great deal of practice can he overcome this. The simple, aggressive, physical act of being stared at by a large group of people is also causing the butterflies in his stomach. He has all his intellectual worries about the qualities of his performance and its reception, of course, but the mass threat-stare is an additional and more fundamental hazard for him. This is again a case of the curiosity stare being confused at an unconscious level with the threat-stare. The wearing of glasses and sunglasses makes the face appear more aggressive because it artificially and accidentally enlarges the pattern of the stare. Mild mannered individuals tend to select thin-rimmed or rimless glasses (without realizing why they do so) because this enables them to see better with the minimum stare exaggeration, arousing counter aggression.
Moths have a pair of startling eye-markings on their wings. These lie concealed until the creatures are attacked by predators.
On a smaller scale certain products have been given threat-face brand names such as OXO, OMO, OZO or OVO. The attention has already been drawn.
In animal world, during the fight, destruction of life is avoided because the enemy either flees or submits. In either case, the dispute is settled. But the moment that attacking is done from such a distance that the submission signals of the losers cannot be read by the winners, then violent aggression is going to go raging on. In modern aggression, the result is wholesale slaughter on a scale unheard of in any other species.
There are 5 solutions proposed by the author to end the massacre:
- massive mutual disarmamaent
- de-patriotize the members of the different social groups.
- provide and promote harmless, symbolic substitutes for war
- improvement of intellectual control over aggression.
According to the author none of these are really possible for the near future. So he proposes this as the only sound biological solution to this dilemma: 5. Massive depopulation or a rapid spread of the species on to other planets, combined if possible with assistance from all four of the courses of action already mentioned. To sum up then, the best solution for ensuring world peace is the widespread promotion of contraception or abortion.
From out ancient background there remained a need for all-powerful figure who could keep the group under control, and the vacancy was filled by the invention of a god. At first sight it is surprising that religion has been so successful, but its extreme potency is simply a measure of the strength of our fundamental biological tendency. Because if this, religion has proved immensely valuable as a device for aiding social cohesion, and it is doubtful whether our species could have progressed far without it. We all simply have to believe in something.
Why do we like to eat our food hit?
- it helps to simulate ‘prey temparature’ :Although we no longer consume freshly killed meat we nevertheless devour it at much the same temperature as other carnivor species.
- We have such weak teeth that we are forced to ‘tenderize’ the meat by cooking it. But it doesn’t explain why want to eat it hot.
- byincreasing the temperature of the food we improve its flavor.
Like other primates we find it hard to resist sweets.
The urge to eat meat appears to have become too deep -seated.
The place where the environment comes into direct contact with an animal, its body surface, receives a great deal of rough treatment during the course of its life. Animals have evolved a veriety of special comfort movements that help to keep it clean.
Social grooming, (animals picking food from each other’s fur) the development of a friendly mutual aid system. This can be seen in a wide range of both bird and mammal species, but it reaches a peak of expression among the higher primates. When they groom each other, they do lip-smacking to communicate. Look at this video:
We no longer have a luxuriant coat of fur to clean. Smiling has replaced lip smacking and vocalization replaced grooming. The behavior pattern of talking:
- Information talking: Talking with verbs about everything
- Mood talking: nonverbal mood signals
- Exploratory talking: Talking for talking’s sake
- Grooming talking; Meaningless polite chatter during gatherings
Fluffy or furry clothing, rugs, or furniture often release a strong grooming response. Pet animals are even more inviting, and few naked apes can resist the temptation to stroke a cat’s fur or scratch a dog behind the ear.
So, why the grooming adoption of humans did not involved our hair? The explanation appears to lie in the sexual significance of the hair. Its sexual associations have led to its involvement in sexual behavior patterns, so that stroking or manipulating the hair is now an action too heavily loaded with erotic significance to be used as a simple social friendship gesture.
In today’s world we have some psychological disorders and they are coming from the grooming need of our ancestors. Medical care is one of the grooming actions among apes. Minor infection and sicknesses are usually treated rationally, as if they are simply mild versions of serious illnesses, but there is strong evidence to suggest that they are in reality much more related to primitive ‘grooming demands’. The medical symptoms reflect a behavioral problem that has taken a physical form, rather than a true physical problem. This is happening because by examining, writing a prescription, taking care of the patient, the doctor is doing grooming. If psychological the person needs constant grooming, this is a disorder. In modern world we call it: Münchausen’s Syndrome. Those members of a community who are either very successful or socially well adjusted rarely suffer from this. Those that have temporary or long-standing social problems are, by contrast, highly susceptible.
Also, another disorder is hidden here: Some individuals have such a great need to care for others that they may actively promote and prolong sickness in a companion in order to be able to express their grooming urges more fully. This way a vicious cycle of a chronic invalid demanding and constant attention is created. This is called: Münchausen by Proxy syndrome.
OUR OTHER SIMILARITIES
Like other primates we still scratch ourselves, rub our eyes, pick our sores,. and lick our wounds. We also share with them a strong tendency to sun bathe. In addition we have added a number of specialized cultural patterns, the most common and widespread of which is washing with water. This is rare in other primates, although certain species bathe occasionally.
We also sweat like primates. There is a further distinction in the ares of emotional sweating, the palms and the soles differing from the armpits and the forehead. The first regions respond well only to emotional situations, whereas the last two react to both emotional and to temperature stimuli.
The last part of the book is about how naked ape sees other animals. There is some interesting information here. Higher forms of animal life regard other animals in 5 ways: as prey, symbionts, competitors, parasites and predators.
The most ancient symbiont in our history is undoubtedly the dog. We cannot be sure exactly when our ancestors first began to domesticate this valuable animal, but it appears to be at least ten thousand years ago. The wild, wolf-like ancestors of the domestic dog must have been serious competitors with our hunting ancestors. In time – we do not exactly know how- they made a deal in each hunt to share the kill. In time, possibly young puppies were brought in to the tribal home base to be fattened so that they could eat them later. However, their value as watch dogs were discovered. Then, these that were allowed to live in a now tamed condition and permitted to accompany the males on their hunting trip show immediately their talent of track down the prey.
Having been fed and raised, the dogs would consider themselves to be members of the naked-ape pack and would cooperate instinctively with their adopted leaders. Selective breeding over a number of generations would soon get rid of the trouble makers and a new, improved stock of increasingly restrained and controllable domestic hunting dogs would arise.
Individual dogs with unusually well developed abilities in a particular direction were inbred to intensify their special advantages.
With the development of large-scale grain storage, rodents became a serious problem and rodent-killers were encouraged The cat the ferret and the mongoose were the species that came to our aid and in the first two cases full dommestication with selective breeding followed.
Animals We Like and We Don’t Like
They asked 80,000 British children aging between 4 to 14 what their favorite animal is in the zoo. The figures are as follows: 97.15% of all the children quoted a mammal of some kind as their top favorite Birds accounted for 1.6%, reptiles 1%, amphibians 0.055. If we narrow it to top ten animals:
- Chimpanzee (13.5%)
- Monkey (13%)
- Horse (9%)
- Bushbaby (A nocturnal ape) (8%)
- Panda (7.5%)
- Bear (7%)
- Elephant (6%)
- Lion (5%)
- Dog (4%)
- Giraffe (2.5%)
It is immediately clear that these preferences do not reflect aesthetic influences. The top ten are not the most elegant or brightly colored of species. They include instead a high proportion of rather clumsy, heavy-set and dully colored forms. But they look like ‘us’ or they act like ‘us’ somehow. Look at these facts:
- They all have hair, rather than feathers or scales
- They have rounded outlines (chimpanzee, monlkey, bushbaby, panda, bear,e lephant)
- They have flat faces (chimpanzee, monkey, bush baby, bear, panda, lion)
- They have facial expressions (chimpanzee, monkey, horse, lion, dog)
- They can ‘manipulate’ small objects (chimpanzee,. monkey, busbaby, panda,elephant)
- Their postures are in some ways, or at some timesrather vertical (chimpanzee, monket, buhbaby, panda, bear, giraffe)
This is not a conscious process. Each of the species listed provides certain key stimuli that strongly remind us of special properties of our own species. Non-mammalian species score badly because they are weak in these above respects. Among the birds, the top 2 picks were penguin, which is a vertically walking animal, and parrot, who speaks like a human.
The younger children prefer the bigger animals and the older children prefer the smaller ones. Because smaller children viewing the animals as parent-substitutes and the older children are looking upon them as child-substitutes.
Let’s look at the animal hates:
- Snake (27%)
- Spider (9.5%)
- Crocodile (4.5%)
- Lion (.4.5%)
- Rat (4%)
- Skunk (3%)
- Gorilla (3%)
- Rhinoceros (3%)
- Hippopotamus (2.5%)
- Tiger (2.5%)
These animals share one important feature: they are dangerous. Most of them lack the anthropomorphic features that describe the top ten favorites. Most of the people can’t even stand looking at their pictures. They cannot hurt you from the pictures, so what is this disgust?
So the fear for top two is very interesting…
An analysis of the reasons given for hating these forms reveals that snakes are disliked because they are slimy an d dirty and spiders are repulsive because they are hairy and creepy. This means that they must have a symbolic significance rather than being dangerous. We might have a powerful inborn response to avoid these animals (MariaExample): 1. They might be symbolizing unwanted sex 2 .Inborn aversion response towards snake-like forms, aversion response has a survival value.
As far as the spider fear is concerned, there is a marked sex difference. The level of reaction to spiders is the same for girls with boys up to the age of puberty, then the fear in females doubles with a sharp increase. This leap in spider hatred that accompanies female puberty because of the growth of unwanted hair on the body of a young girl. That’s why they describe it as ‘nasty, hairy things’ .
At the end of the seventeenth century the world population of naked ape was only 500 million. It has now risen to 7,600 million. Every twenty-four hours it increases by another 150,000. In 210 years’ time, if the rate of increate stays steady – which is unlikely- there will be a seething mass of 400,000 million (400 billion) naked apes crowding the face of the earth. This is scary.
Many exciting species have become extinct in the past and we are no exception. Sooner or later we shall go and make way for something else.
Some people think that our intelligence can dominate all our basic urges. I submit that this is rubbish. Our raw animal nature will never permit it. Of course we are flexible, of course, we are behavioral opportunists, but there are severe limits to the form our opportunism can take. By stressing our biological features in this book, I have tried to show the nature of these restrictions.
If you enjoyed this information as much as I did, don’t forget to add this great book into your library!