The Monkey House

img_1488The NY Times, our nation’s crier, reported on people who chose to live with primates (link). They almost uniformly are charmed by the infant primate, but soon after a year or two, are overwhelmed at the onset of puberty, super monkey reflexes, and superhuman strength. The fascinating thing is how they remain attached, bonded, by the experience of raising the baby -changing the diaper, feeding the bottle, holding the infant chimp, baboon, or Capuchin monkey. 

It points to a switch that humans have in their makeup that reaches across species. The infant primate shares many features with human infants -but it’s mostly helplessness and cuteness (link). We are all neotenous apes (link)-apes whose infantile features are preserved into adulthood -possibly by the act of taming ourselves.

A baby is born unable to fend for itself, unable to walk, unable to find food. It is in our makeup to compensate for this to propogate the species.  It goes both ways. There is the great story of a toddler that fell into the gorilla exhibit. A mother gorilla came over and cradled the child until help arrived (link).

The NYT article goes on to how the people cling to their trans-specied progeny when puberty and adulthood brings out ape dominance behavior. This is what we do as we raise our children into adolescence and adulthood -despite the hormonally driven antisocial behaviors, they are still our children and we cling to them.

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