Sunday, May 11, 2014

Social Climbers and Food for Thought

by Sarena P. Tarongoy
                Some say that humans came from monkeys. Some even made a few movies that ____ about the resemblance of intelligence of apes to humans'.  But how do they come up with this idea of us evolving from monkeys or us being so much alike with the apes? 

Two episodes of a documentary TV series entitled The Life of Mammals were presented in class. The Social Climbers episode talked about how monkeys live in the wild while the Food for Thought episode discussed the wide range of similarities of apes with humans.  In these episodes, a large variety of monkeys and apes were shown and each group of primates exhibited special skills and habits that they used to adapt and survive in their respective habitat.

The Social Climbers episode mainly showed how and what monkeys eat for their survival.  Consequently, some type of monkeys use their teeth or their jaws to break nuts, some gnaws the barks of trees to sip the sap from them, others use their front limbs (hands) to pound and open some clams, and most of them use their tails to climb for their food faster and higher.  But aside from their different methods of getting some nourishment, these monkeys also have special abilities unique in their own kind.  Some of them are made by nature especially small and lightweight to support their bodies in climbing the highest trees with the most fragile branches.  Some have eyes that can see in the dark for hunting at night, while some can see in color that can help them to distinguish which leaves are poisonous and which leaves are healthy.  Lastly, their skills and abilities are also used for them to be social.  They have a certain social order where the "alpha male" leads the group.  He must be followed by all and always has the first bite of the prize of their hunt.  He will be respected and will be labeled as first priority.  But, monkeys also care about the young of the group, the mother who carries a baby is free from hitting or attacking when a fight is happening among the monkeys.  These traits of the monkeys, from food gathering to being social only tells us that monkeys really have large brain size enabling them to think smarter relative to other mammals and similar to humans but not as equal.

Apes are almost equal with the humans but we still have larger brain size thus giving us the capacity to think in a more advanced manner.  We have close relationship with the apes.  In the Food for Thought episode of the TV documentary series, apes have certain differences from monkeys.  These differences include the body size, the noticeable presence of tails in monkeys and the knowledge of apes to use tools in certain aspects of their daily lives in the wild.  The "tools" that are used by apes include rocks, and wood to break nuts or to help them in their food gathering.  They were able to do this kind of stuff by imitating what they see from humans or from older apes.  This particular habit of copying is passed down to the next generation thus enabling them to be more adaptive to their surroundings.  As time passes by, their brains become more developed.  The documentary also showed us that they even dream, thus increasing the similarity to humans. 

These documentaries about monkeys and apes tell us that animals can and will be able to learn certain necessary things for them to survive, very similar to humans who strive harder every day to be able to adapt to our own surroundings.  The brain size of each being I think is one of the most important limiting agent of how much knowledge we can store in our minds.

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