RIGHT TURN CLYDE!
This week we’ll be talking about our simian cousins, their relationship with us, and their similarities and differences with us all well. The class of Hominids includes the family of primates known as the great apes, which includes seven different species in 4 genera. They are called Pongo, which is the family of orangutans, Gorillas, Pan, which are chimpanzees, and humans. Baboons, mandrills, and Gibbons are considered Old World Monkeys, and not true apes, although they display many of the habits of them.
Now you’re probably all wondering why I would pick this topic for a subject of my science blog. Well, if you’re at all familiar with my novels, there is a connection, as Dr. Avery uses chimpanzee DNA to complete his experiments. Chimpanzees and Bonobos are our closest relatives, and some are even trained to speak a limited amount of words(shades of Planet of The Apes).
There are several species of ancient great apes, ranging from the smaller proconsuls to the enormous 10 ft Gigantopithecus, which some anthropologists believe could be a description of Bigfoot. It is believed he could have either walked on all fours like a gorilla, or upright as a man. Some gorillas have been known to walk as a biped. Its main diet was probably bamboo or other vegetation, and it was 3x heavier than gorillas, and 5x heavier than orangutans.
Is this really a description of Bigfoot? Or is he something else all together. Many people believe this is the best explanation, and that somehow the ancient ape survived the ice age, and flourished in the great Northwest. And the bigger question is, did we really evolve from the apes, or were we put here by a divine power?
Well, that’s the topic of a past blog, so you can look that up on the home page. There are many theories as to how we got here, and evolution or genetic design. Evolution from apes in just one theory, or fact, however you wish to look at it.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at our friend Clyde, the orangutan, and how they live, what they eat, and their habits. We’ll also look at how Hollywood has monopolized this legendary and mysterious animal.
THE GENTLE GIANT
One of the most curious creatures in the world are orangutans. They are the most intelligent of the primates, use a wide variety of tools, and construct sleeping nests in trees. They have been featured in major films, and are considered one of the most beloved of the great apes.
They are native to Indonesia and malaysia, and are found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. The Bornean species is divided into three subspecies. They diverged about 400,000 years ago. Gigantopithecus is the direct ancestor of the orangutan.
They have reddish-brown hair, and males and females differ in size and appearance. They are the most intelligent of the great apes, and some have even learned sign language.
Hollywood had monopolized on orangutans, as they are easy to train, and enjoy the company of people, and have been featured in several films. Who could forget the adorable Dustin in Dustin Checks In, or Clyde in the Clint Eastwood films? Maurice is the unforgettable orangutan that helps the humans defeat Kobo and his defectors in the recently released Dawn of The Planet of The Apes. There is also an orangutan featured in Jules Verne’s classic Mysterious Island. And then, of course, there is Disney’s king of the swingers, King Louie from The Jungle Book.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at the orangutan’s aggressive cousin, the Gorilla. Until then, here is today’s link:
CREATURE OF LEGEND
During the 1800’s, American, British, Spanish, and French explorers traveled through Africa, and were told stories of a mythical beast; a man covered with hair that stood up to seven feet tall on its hind leg, a terrifying beast with the strength of ten men. When they actually discovered it was a type of hominid, the term “Gorillae” was used to describe the beast. The term came from the history of Hanno the Navigator, around 500 BC, who was believed the first one to actually see the ape.
The species is predominately herbivorous, and lives in the tropical rain forests in Central Africa and the Congo region. There are two principal types-Eastern and Western, and four or five subspecies, and they are the largest primate by size. Their DNA is highly similar to humans, and are the next closest living relatives to humans after chimpanzees.
They live in groups which are called troops, and there is usually only one adult male, who has multiple sexual partners and offspring, although there has been instances of multiple male troops as well. They have 25 distinct vocalizations and group communication sounds. Severe aggression is rare among groups, but when two males meet from neighboring troops, they fight to the death.
Gorillas are very intelligent, and have been taught to learn sign language. Gorillas can laugh, grieve, and have rich emotional lives. They can think about the past and the future, and make and use tools as well.
They have been featured as the subject of countless movies, such as; Tarzan, King Kong, Mighty Joe Young, Congo, Gorillas In the Mist and Planet of the Apes. They have been used in cartoons and televison, including the beloved Magilla Gorilla, and used in video games such as Donkey Kong. They have never been known to be aggressive towards humans, but there have been some rare instances.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at our cousins, the chimpanzees. See how these highly intelligent beings mimic us, and differ from us. Until then, here is the link:
OUR MOST COMMON COUSIN
Chimpanzees are the closest living primate that is like us. Their brains are similar, they have social groups called “communities,” and these also use tools and weapons. They are one of the two exclusively African species of living great apes, and are found mostly around the Congo Jungle.
Classified in the genus Pan, the chimpanzee and the bonobo diverged about one million years ago. Chimpanzees are somewhat larger, more aggressive and male dominated, whereas, the bonobo are more peaceful and female dominated. Their hair is typically black or brown, and they are the most social of the primates, next to humans.
Fruit is the main part of their diet, although they also eat vegetation, bark, honey, insects, and on some occasions other chimps and small monkeys. They can live up to 30 years in the wild and captivity. They are the most intelligent of all the primates, and use a wide variety of tools to construct elaborate sleeping nests.
One of the most influential scientists in the study of their behavior is Jane Goodall, who has helped maintain their survival from extinction. She observed them using sticks to dig for insects, stones to hammer with, and have even been known to use spears from sticks they have sharpened with their teeth to hunt with.
They communicate using non-verbal communication, such as vocalizations, hand gestures, and facial expressions. They have learned a limited amount of sign language and have even been known to recreate some human speech.
Chimpanzees have been used in labs due to their extreme likeness to human genomes in disease research, and have been used by NASA in orbital rocket tests. In the 1930’s and 1940’s Cheetah the chimp became well known as Tarzan’s sidekick, and in the 1960’s the Saturday morning lineup included Lancelot Link Secret Chimp, which is certainly one of my favorites.
In the late 60’s, we were introduced to the highly intelligent and vocal Ceasar, from Planet of The Apes fame. I rather like Rowdy McDowell’s version, in which he shows a vengeful, conquering ape who seeks to free his hominid brothers and sisters from bondage. The new series is based loosely on the first one, and uses many references to Pierre Boule’s roots. I like the new one as well. The remake of the original Planet of the Apes, however, with Mark Walberg has got to be one of the most idiotic attempts at a remake I’ve ever seen.
In my Dimension Lapse series, we discover that Balta carries the genes of a chimpanzee, as well as human and alien DNA. It’s described as simian, which is really common monkey, but this is a misnomer. This is because the DNA results made were inconclusive, and hard to determine exactly what he was. In the new book, we get a glimpse of two chimps, named Rocco and Clyde. I won’t give away the next edition, Journey to Aldron, which won’t be out until next year, but I will say that study of the chimps has an integral part in it.
On my next blog, we’ll take a look at the most industrious of the hominids-man himself. Until then, here is today’s link:
CREATORS OF MODERN CIVILIZATION
Today we’ll look at the last of the hominids and the most innovative, intelligent, compassionate, and caring of the “great apes,” which is, of course, us. Humans have changed the world by harnessing everything it has given us. That, too, unfortunately has led us to destruction of our natural resources, war, overpopulation, disease, and famine, not just for our species, but every living thing on this planet.
Our story begins roughly 3 million to 2 million years ago, when several humanoid species evolved from their ape ancestors, such as Australopithecus and Homo Erectus, and later the Neanderthal and Cro Magnon man. The Neanderthal lived around the time of Homo Heidelbergensis and Homo Florestensis. It is believed that several of these species habituated around the same time, and that Cro Magnon and Neanderthal did indeed interbreed.
Modern Homo Sapiens evolved around the time of dramatic climate change 200,000 years ago in Africa. They learned to gather and hunt food, and evolved behaviors that help them face challenges to survival. Modern humans can be characterized by smaller skeletons compared to Neanderthals. They have larger brains and smaller teeth. By 164,000 years ago, humans were collecting and cooking shellfish, and about 90,000 years ago, modern humans made primitive fishing tools. Fire can be traced back to Neanderthals.
The dawn of human civilization is difficult to trace due to recent discoveries in anthropology. It was first believed the Sumarian civilization was the earliest, but recent finds suggest organized structures as far back as 20,000 years ago. Art and music began as early as the stone age, and has developed into languages all their own. Mathematics can be traced back to the Sumarians and Egyptians, and science was most influenced by Roman and Greek philosophers.
Neanderthal Cro-Magnon(modern man)
As we enter the 21st century, it’s amazing how far we’ve come in such a short period of time. We’ve learn to reap the land for its fruits, using machines that no longer require human labor. We’ve learned to travel across the land within a day by flying like our feathered friends, and to build structures that will keep us safe and dry; at least until a natural disaster interferes.
So what will be our ultimate future, and how will it define us as a race? With robotics, scientists believe we could become part machine, or eventually all machine with only our memories imprinted from our brains. But what if we don’t take that route? What will we look like in say, 1000 years? As we obtain greater knowledge, are we getting smarter, or dumber, by machines?
Providing we don’t become extinct, scientists believe eventually we will blend into two races. Interracial breeding, general overall health, birth defects and lifestyle all influence our hereditary genes. It would be extremely interesting to see what the outcome will be, as we evolve into the next stage of advanced hominid.
Next time, we’ll explore a new and interesting science topic. Please join me then!