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4242.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 8:02 pm Reply with quote

Not bassons. Totally different.

4243.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 8:04 pm Reply with quote

In 2001, a group of seven Chilean poets held a poetry reading in the baboon enclosure in Santiago Zoo to demonstrate that baboons are more receptive to poetry than the average Chilean.

The poets were delighted by what they called their ‘warm welcome’. They were not, as had been feared, attacked by the baboons. "In fact, they were impressively alert, as well as showing the kind of curiosity we associate with young children," said poet Leonel Lienlaf. “They were very quiet during our reading, although we sometimes saw their playful side."

The baboons were particularly appreciative of the work of Guillermo García, who addressed them directly. "Yesterday, my dear baboons”, the poet told them, “I had a profound dream. I dreamt that one day humanity would again live in harmony with you" .

The poetry of Lienlaf and Jorge del Río provoked a more vocal response. During both readings the baboons climbed to the top of their tower and began shrieking.

The seven poets ended with an epic poem which they read together. Another of the poets, Raul Zurita, said: "There was certainly a profound silence during that piece. At least that's how I remember it."


4244.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 8:06 pm Reply with quote

Baboons show some evidence of being capable of abstract thought.

But not much, frankly.

So far, only two baboons have demonstrated a glimmering of talent in this direction.

In research carried out by Joel Fagot (of the Centre for Research in Cognitive Neuroscience in Marseilles) and Edward Wasserman and Michael Young of the University of Iowa and published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, it took thousands of attempts to train the baboons to to match similar pictures on a computer screen.

‘Analogical’ thinking was previously believed to be confined only to human beings and chimpanzees. Evolutionary psychologists are always keen to prove that humans are as much like animals as possible, but even Dr.Fagot admits that the ability to compare and differentiate amongst baboons ‘may not be their intellectual forte’.


4245.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 8:08 pm Reply with quote

There once was a brainy baboon
Who always breathed down a bassoon,
For he said, "It appears
That in billions of years
I shall certainly hit on a tune."

4246.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 8:10 pm Reply with quote

In the 1960s, baboons were thought to be the key to understanding human evolution.

Like humans (but unlike their closest relatives, vervet monkeys), baboons have descended from the trees and spend most of their time on the ground. Like humans, male baboons are aggressive and compete for the more passive females. The one major apparent difference between baboons and humans, was that humans hunt and baboons don’t. Hunting was thought to be the crucial skill which made us human, while baboons stayed merely monkeys.

Unfortunately for this theory, it was then discovered that baboons do, in fact, hunt. They have been regularly observed to chase down and kill small monkeys, bush pigs and gazelles. If baboons hunt, they ought to be just like people, but they aren’t.

The competitive behaviour of male baboons was then found to be more subtle than that of the readers of Loaded magazine. Baboon troops consist of groups of closely related females who all grew up together, whereas the males move around from troop to troop. It is therefore much less surprising that the females tend to ‘get on’ with each other, while the males jockey for position.

Baboons are no longer generally thought to be a useful model for understanding humans.

s: WMC

4247.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 8:14 pm Reply with quote

The correct name for a group of baboons, as often stated on the internet, is not a ‘flange’. This originated as a joke on the 1980s BBC comedy show ‘Not The Nine O’Clock News’ in a sketch called ‘Gerald the Gorilla’ and has somehow entered the language.

This ludicrous mistake even appears in an reader-review of a serious academic study: ‘Sex and Friendship In Baboons” by Barbara B Smuts.

“In this marvelous book," writes the reviewer," Smuts draws from years of painstaking field research in which she followed around a flange of chacma baboons in the Mateti Game Park in Zimbabwe. Her findings inspired the plot of When Harry Met Sally”.

s: JHW

According to Wikipedia, the correct name for a group of baboons is a ‘congress’.

This may have to be taken with a pinch of salt, however. Wikipedia also says that ‘flange’ is correct too.


There is a picture of a so-called ‘flange’ of baboons, here:


4248.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 8:15 pm Reply with quote

LISA: You, sir, are a baboon!
HOMER: [gasp] Me?
LISA: Yes, you! Baboon! Baboon! Baboon! Baboon!
HOMER: I don't think you realize what you're saying...


4249.  Mon Jan 12, 2004 8:18 pm Reply with quote

The closer the bond between two baboons, the more personal their greeting.

For male Guinea baboons (Papio papio), this involves ritualized fiddling with each other's genitals. Penis and scrotum diddling is the culmination of a complex greeting ritual that begins with face pulling and progresses through hugging and showing their arses to each other.

Genital twiddling is unique to guinea baboons, but other primates invade each other's space in similarly challenging ways.

White-faced capuchin monkeys, for example, stick their fingers up each other's noses in greeting.



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