Philobiblon: Chimps: more like us than we've cared to admit

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Chimps: more like us than we've cared to admit

"Secret filming" (there is some point in CCTV!) has shown the complexity of chimpanzee tool use in the wild, and the way different troupe's "cultures" is passed along.

"The film shows the moment when a chimpanzee goes searching for a meal at a nearby termite mound. A male scrapes away some soil and takes a thick stick left nearby and thrusts it into the ground, grasping it with his hands and a foot, throwing his full body weight behind it. .. After making a hole a foot or so deep, the chimpanzee pulls the stick out and puts it to one side. He then takes a long, thin strand of grass from his mouth, chews the end to fray it, then feeds it down the hole to fish for termites. Meanwhile other chimps sit, strands of grass in their mouths, waiting for their turn."

In the "must be an amazing woman" category is Bibi Ayisha, 55, billed by the Telegraph as "Afghanistan's only female warlord".

Kaftar joined the resistance during the Soviet invasion, she claims. Her father was a powerful tribal leader and she had a naturally warlike temperament.
"It makes no difference if you are a man or a woman when you have the heart of a fighter," she said. Kaftar claims to lead 150 men and her only concession to gender roles on the battlefield is that she requires a male relative to be present when she is fighting, in line with Afghan tradition for women outside the home.

Pure barbarism: a US execution has been delayed, because doctors have pulled out of involvement. (What the hell were they doing there is the first place?!) So now officials are racing to complete the execution of Michael Angelo Morales before the warrant expires. But if it does, there's a good chance he'll survive.

Vernell Crittendon, a prison spokesman, confirmed that the prison has until 11.59 pm tonight (0759 GMT Wednesday) to execute Morales. After that, the death warrant expires and officials would have to go back to the trial judge who imposed the death sentence in 1983 for another warrant.
Seeking another warrant could prove difficult for the state, however, since the original sentencing judge, Charles McGrath, joined Morales this month in asking Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for clemency in the case. Judge McGrath said that he no longer believed the credibility of a jailhouse informant whose testimony helped to send Morales to death row.

So pure accidents of logistics will decide if a man lives or dies, a man whose guilt is now doubted by the judge who sentenced him ... US "justice"!


Blogger spotted elephant said...

I'm an animal lover, so I care about chimps. But their similarity to humans (namely their penchant for violence) has always made me uncomfortable. I much prefer bonobos: a matriarchal society that uses sex instead of aggression.

I don't know what to say about Bibi Ayisha. Can't really get my brain around the "she can fight with the men, as long as a male relative is with her".

2/21/2006 06:34:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

I read about bonobos in Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence by Wrangham and Peterson, great book for anyone who hasn't read it.

As for the Afghan warlord - I found myself unable to comment. One suspects she isn't a feminist, but then she is tough, and you've got to admire that.

2/21/2006 06:48:00 pm  

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