Doing battle with daily dragons

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Monkey Magic

The natural world is completely fascinating to me. Investigation of natural sciences is kind of like looking at a Seurat painting from up close and then pulling back; a mass of multi-colored dots suddenly becomes Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Things that look quite straightforward on the outside become startlingly complex and worthy of further study. This is the reason why this article completely slayed me.

Anyone who wasn’t completely convinced by Darwin has GOT to sit up and take notice. It’s official; monkeys like porn and People Magazine just as much as we do and are willing to pay for it.

In studies conducted in primate behaviour, researchers were astonished to learn that the monkeys in question would “pay” to see pictures of female monkey backsides by giving up little rewards that they had earned. Seriously. Just like monkey Penthouse. What was MORE astonishing was that they would also pay to look at pictures of higher ranking primates. They had never had any interaction with the primates in the photos, but could tell just from observation that they were of a higher social order than themselves. In the reverse, the researchers actually had to PAY the monkeys to look at pictures of lower-ranking primates. I suppose this is why Cosmo sells slightly better than Average Joe Monthly.

This begs the question: Do monkeys aspire to greatness?

This study is so cool, I just about wet my office chair.