by Imperio, Etienne Y.
The program entitled The Life of Mammals is a documentary series which tackles different life forms here on earth. In its last two episodes, “The Social Climbers” and “Food For Thought”, Sir David Attenborough focuses on a group of animals which is commonly known to be close to us humans- the monkeys.
Humans eat, communicate, mate and fight for their own survival. And so do lions, crocodiles and all other types of animals. But how come these animals were never thought of as ancestors of the human race? Why monkeys? It may have been a misconception that humans came from apes. But following Charles Darwin’s Evolution Theory, we share a common ancestor with our hairy friends.
From the documentary, our most evident similarity with monkeys is the size of our brain and how we use it in everyday living. What makes monkeys more similar to us is their ability to find ways to be able to utilize and maximize the resources that can be found in their environment. They have inquisitiveness like that of humans that can be seen in the simplest activities like trying to find out how to crack nuts, and even being able to differentiate between plants which look almost alike.
There exist monkeys with the ability to reach into far places, those with excellent vision, nocturnal ones and even tiny ones which can easily climb up on thin branches. And just like how humans specialize in one job, monkeys also try to work with their special abilities which give them advantage and allow them to have a relatively easier way of acquiring food.
They are also able to communicate with others that allows them to build relationships and can even build a community of their own. What’s unbelievable is that as humans have statuses in the society, monkeys also have this hierarchy among them. And we can’t remove violence now, can we?
Another exceptional ability of theirs is to imitate what they see from their environment. Give a human a hammer, this human will know what to do with it. On the other hand, give the same tools to an ape, this ape will then be able to clumsily and gradually try to do what the human did.
The documentary progresses and shows the transition to the earliest humans. These humans are then able to form their own communities which later on become civilizations fully equipped with architecture, mathematics and even astronomy. Then these civilizations disappeared.
The existence of monkeys rely on their environment and so does humans. We have exploited it to provide our needs but after all these, what now? We must realize that our environment depends now on us. It may last us a few more years but what if it ceases to exist? Then we also cease to live.
“Instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population, perhaps it's time we control the population to allow the survival of the environment.” –David Attenborough, in concluding The Life of Mammals
Life Blossoms | Biography of Sir David Frederick Attenborough. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2014, from https://blogs.ntu.edu.sg/hss/hp331-tanwen/life-blossoms/
BBC One - The Life of Mammals, Social Climbers. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2014, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007c1rd
BBC One - The Life of Mammals, Food for Thought. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2014, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007c1vc