Interesting things about Gorillas.

This made me laugh so I had to pass it along.

Gotcha! Two young gorillas playing. Photograph: Alamy

Age: About 7m years.

Appearance: Wayne Rooney with a bad back.

Ooh, I saw a documentary about these the other day. They’d learned to ride horses and shoot guns. Are you sure it was a documentary?

Then Charlton Heston landed in a spaceship and they caught him in a net . . . Carry on.

Come to think of it, perhaps it was a “dramatic reconstruction”. But it could happen, couldn’t it? If it will shut you up, yes. What is definite is that gorillas are even more like humans than we thought. This week we’ve learned they play games.

Not football? I couldn’t handle 70,000 apes with vuvuzelas. Nope, tag. According to psychologists at Portsmouth University, a young gorilla will hit another then run away. When the victim gets his own back, it’s his turn to be chased.

What are they playing at? Apart from the obvious, obviously. They’re honing their social skills, working out what they can get away with. The psychologists also reckon they’re demonstrating an understanding of fair play.

And I’m a monkey’s uncle. That explains a lot, but it doesn’t disprove anything. The chases start during play fights, when one animal hits another too hard. The fact that the hitter runs away apparently shows he realises he hasn’t played fair, but wants to keep the upper hand. The chaser is proving that he won’t stand for it.

Self-righteous gorillas? They’ll be editing the Daily Express next. Perhaps they already are. Gorillas and humans share 98-99% of their DNA. In the wild, gorillas use simple tools to forage for food. In captivity, they have learned sign language. And they grieve for their dead. Some philosophers say they should have the same rights as us.

I’m starting to worry that the apes-with-rifles thing might turn out to be true. We’ve got numbers on our side: there are fewer than 120,000 of them, versus seven billion of us. And we’re killing more of them every day.

Do say: “Pax!”

Don’t say: “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape.”

via Pass notes No 2,813: Gorillas | Environment | The Guardian.


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