Home / Because You Can’t Take Bioanthropology Too Seriously…

Because You Can’t Take Bioanthropology Too Seriously…

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Recently, for my bioanthropology class I was required to visit the local zoo, observe five different types of primates, and type up a report of my observations while answering a few questions the professors gave us.

Being me, I can’t take any assignment involving monkeys eating their own shit seriously. Or any assignment that requires me to observe a white trash family on vacation day (read: “unemployment check came in” day.)

Behold. Real, live answers on my report that I am actually going to hand in to my professor tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.:

Question: Did you observe any behavioral differences among the primate groups? What are they?

The new world monkeys (capuchins) and the prosimians (lemurs) were much more animated and interacted with each other and zoo visitors, while the great apes (orangutans) and lesser apes (white-cheeked gibbons) were not very active – as much as I love a monkey staring at me waiting for ME to do something cool for five minutes, I left disappointed.

Question: Did you see evidence for a dominance hierarchy among any of the primates? Or, conversely, did the primates lack an apparent dominance hierarchy? Which ones and what was the nature of the hierarchy?

The capuchins and human beings had a clearly established hierarchy, namely parental and child roles. The capuchin mother carried her offspring on her back, while the human mother initiated physical negative reinforcement to her offspring (namely, she backhanded the brat.)

The gibbons also had an established dominance hierarchy, in that a female appeared to mount a male, which surprised me, unless I’m just very unskilled at discerning gibbon gender, a complete possibility.

Question: What observation(s) surprised you during your field experience?

I was considerably surprised at how absolutely boring orangutans are. I actually began to reconsider my childhood habit of throwing things at them in the cage. Had I provoked threatening behavior from the orangutans, I would have a much more interesting report to write, rather than having to resort to humor to engage the reader.

I was also amazed at how quickly a capuchin monkey can consume its own feces.

… maybe I’ll get an A, maybe not. The fact of the matter is, I got to see a monkey eat its own poop and a mother beat her child. Wins all around.

ed: JH

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About Chelsea Smith

  • Navyra

    I also did a similar project, but assignment was more fulfilling for me it seems. The Orangutans at the zoo I visited (Woodland Park Zoo) were very active and interacted with humans through the glass. (However I think this was mostly because they were human raised.) I personally love BioAnthro… It bothers me that you would consider intentionally trying to upset an animal for your own entertainment, and I’d like to point out that Primates eating their own feces isn’t natural in the wild, it’s a result of high stress levels due to confinement in captivity.

  • Yes, it’ll be titled “Got the Scoop, Ace?”

    It’s my second screenplay-in-progress, after the High Fidelity rip-off Eric Berlin and I will sell to Hollywood.

    You two are so Obnoxiously cute, I can’t stand it.

    That is all.

  • BABS, I’m a 20 year old woman and I’VE never even seen Gilmore Girls. Seriously dude. Gettin’ creepy …

    Anyway, yes, Sussman’s going to attempt to make an honest woman out of me, we’ve been engaged since July. I made a BC post about it but since I made a rather “snarky” remark about the London bombings (he proposed the same day), people pretty much zeroed in on that.

    But we’re doing the distance thing for now. He’s still up near Bowling Green doing the whole job thing, and I’m at school in Purdue. It’s not so bad. Technology makes it easier. We just come and amuse ourselves in BC threads. 🙂

    What’s up with all the interest in the Obnoxious Couple, anyway? Working on a Lifetime movie? 😉

  • Sharky poo’s not a journalist, he’s an art fruit. Just kidding, buddy.

    So do you kids still live together around Purdue (hence Sussman’s long commute, I’m guessing?) or is it a long-distance thing?

    What kind of work do you do, Sussman?

    Congratulations on being engaged, by the way, kids. I didn’t know that 🙂 When was it and how did Sussman propose?

    I feel like I should join an Oprah book club right about now.

    You two kids are like the way less Obnoxious, real-life version of that student journalist couple on Gilmore Girls. I hate them, especially the rich, snarky cad who calls the girl “ace.” “Where’s ya scoop, ace? How about we go make some news in the copy room, dollface?” It’s trying too damn hard to be snappy, ya know what I mean? I’m sure you kids exchanged your snappy words of love over the BG student news desk in a much more organic (by which I mean marijuana-relaxed) manner.

    Yes, I’ve seen that show before.
    I’m still all man.

    That is all.

  • Shark

    Chelsea: “…as much as you claim to be a journalist (as much as you claim to be an artist…”

    I’ll tell ya this: I’ve been a great many things; I’m still an artist… (But I’ll never tell you how I met my wife.)

    Chelsea: “…I figure if I am going to be in a career filled with backstabbing, lying and deception, I may as well go into a career where they’re at least up front about it.”

    I respect that — so go for the Holy Grail; I can put you in touch with Steve Wynn…

  • Well Shark, as much as you claim to be a journalist (as much as you claim to be an artist, but no matter), you’d understand PR has a vital role in business today. I recommend you read this piece at the Media Orchard. It’s an article I hold in high esteem, and I don’t regret my career choice one bit. I figure if I am going to be in a career filled with backstabbing, lying and deception, I may as well go into a career where they’re at least up front about it.

    And I didn’t write this “piece” for BlogCritics. It is segments of a paper I wrote for a class, with no intention of writing it for BC with the exception that we needed SOMETHING on here to break up the racism, “Blame Bush,” and Katrina posts. SOME people thought it was funny, and if I can get someone to smile, even a smirk, I’m happy. God knows we need at least some of that around here.

    And the thing with you and Suss … It’s between you and him but I’m not going to stand for attacks on my fiance’ in my blog thread. However, he’s decided not to dignify it with a response, so I’ll take the high road with him from this point forward.

  • Shark

    Booey: “…PR’s a hot major, but you’ll find your job very, very boring if you end up marketing or PR…”

    …AND if you have a shred of personal integrity, you’ll end up wanting to hang yourself. Go back into Journalism. Seriously.

    PS: Also Dear ChelseaLou — “Suss” started it. [sniff] But I hope to mend the fence before the MLB playoffs.

    BTW: I really think you should expand/develop this piece; I understand the pay is low here at BC, but this concept has great potential. (I would steal it, but my plate is full.)

    xxoo <---platonic, of course) S

  • WELL, BOB … I originally attended BGSU as well, where Suss and I both wrote for the campus newspaper (he was my editor when we initially met) and I was his first columnist for the humor page he started up. Communications over the page turned into late night conversations turned into a date turned into … well, the Obnoxious Couple. And a year later, here we are.

    He’s since graduated (he was a senior, I a sophomore when we began dating), and I switched my major from print journalism to PR — which also happened to be the bastard stepchild of the journalism dept. at BGSU. So I transferred to Purdue beginning this year, at the halfway point.

    And that, dear Booey, is the Cliff’s Notes version of the Obnoxious Couple.

  • So how’d you two crazy kids meet and fall for each other?

    Share the romantic tale.

    See? I’m a big softie at heart.

    Shark’s comment about zoos is interesting, though.

    That is all.

  • Computer Science and Journalism.
    Bowling Green State University.

    Someone took shots at me on this thread? Didn’t notice.

  • PR’s a hot major, but you’ll find your job very, very boring if you end up marketing or PR. I’ve dated lots of chicks who work in that field in Chicago and not one has had anything really interesting to say about their job, which is fine by me since talking about jobs on dates is boring.

    What do you do, Sussman? What’d you study (at Purdue)?

    You kids are way brighter than I was in college.

    Sharky poo — why such sweet, sweet words for me and such undeserved venom for Sussman? He’s our resident sports geek on the site, which makes me happy. So if he makes me happy, he should make you happy too, my friend.

    That is all.

  • Booey, I’m a public relations/media communications major at Purdue. Suss is in the “REAL WORLD” working for the man nowadays, since he apparently has a piece of paper that says he can.

    And Shark, as mature and impressive as your tactic to attack Sussman on MY threads is, give me a call. I was president of a sorority, and I can give you some pointers on how to fight petty and [edited].

  • Shark

    ha ha.

    poop jokes.

    ha ha.

    Give Sussman another beer.

  • Since all the animals made it alive in New Orleans, perhaps those monkeys could go down and eat all the poop in the Superdome.

    Or do they have standards?

    Nah, I heard they’re gonna have to level it anyways.

  • Shark

    Coupla comments on this essay:

    1) This concept had great potential for satire.

    Writer failed. (only answer 2 was somewhat funny [“backhanded the brat”]; and there wasn’t much in the way of implicit criticism of the main monkey, homo sapiens — which is too bad, because there’s a great opportunity to show the inferiority of the species that thinks it’s superior.)

    2) Zoos are The Saddest Places on Earth, and I refuse to patronize them.

  • Shark

    Dear so-not-me,darling Booey,

    I won’t call you a silverback — although when I read a young guy switch between esoteric talk about NFL defensive linemen — and the post-modern implications of Nietzsche’s writings, I do have to wonder:

    Is he hot?


    PS: Shameless Plug Warning:

    Sussman, email me your credit card number and I’ll write you some material that’s actually funny.

  • Wow, Joanie.

    You’re smart. Are you hot?

    That is all.

  • Just to clarify, orangutans and other apes are not monkeys. Apes have a very distinct brow ridge and no tails. Monkeys have tails and their heads lack the distinctive ridge in most cases.

    Sorry you had such a disappointing experience with the orangutans. I’ve always found them fascinating and have thousands of photos of them interacting with each other, with humans, and with siamangs. In fact, I was considering posting my observations of interspecies friendships after spending three full days observing the bond between an adolescent orangutan and a “toddler” siamang. The interaction was truly incredible.

    Yeah, and before you point out that this post was labelled satire, I’ll admit to being one of “those people” who corrects everyone else as the come up to the orangutan, gorilla, chimp, or bonobo enclosure and tell their kids “hey, look at the monkeys.”

  • Chelsea’s my favorite primate writer, by which I mean not someone who writes about primates but a primate who writes.

    Sussman’s alright too 🙂

    Where do you kids go to school? What do ya major in?

    I’m still waiting for Shark to come to this thread and call me a “silverback” again and throw poo at me. I love when he does that and accuses me of being an Internet alpha, which is so not me, darlings. I’m clearly more of a bonobo than a gorilla — I’m a love monkey.

    This should be a Pick of the Week because it’s entertaining and thankfully different than the endless Katrina stuff I’m burned out on by now.

    That is all.

  • RJ

    Jeez…I thought only dogs ate their own poop…

  • 1. My girl talks about monkey poop. Yours doesn’t.

    2. It is a disgrace to humanity that the monkey butt powder picture does NOT display.