Mit ‘Kanzi’ getaggte Beiträge

kanzi-the-great

Kanzi the Great

The closely related Bonobos and Common_Chimpanzees (together making up the genus “Pan”) share around 98 % of genes with us, the human beings. A bit less we share with Gorillas and Orangutans. Together we belong to the Primates, particularly the Apes, particularly the Great Apes, called Hominidae. Thus a look into the life and behaviour of our relatives tells us also a lot about ourselves and our Evolution. Human arrogance has been reduced in the last decades by finding out that we´re not the only ones having self-awareness and by understanding that we´re also not the only ones having developped tool-making. These two qualities are by the way also not exclusive to Primates but also at times being observed with few quite different species. Remarkable is also the fact that some of our relatives have developped “cultures”, methods varying between different groups of the same species. An important question is the field of communication, including even the communication between different species, for example between Great Apes and ourselves. Experiments on this have been going on for decades.

Outstanding Examples of “Humanlike Behaviour” and Communication

Astonishing progress had been found in the communication with Great Apes. For example there is the Gorilla lady Koko who can communicate by sign language. Now, sign language contains elements which are derived from gestures partly automatically associated with emotions or activities. Nevertheless it is very impressing to see the Gorilla´s ability to communicate this way with her human friend. It´s impossible not to be moved by watching this exchange of informations as well as expression of feelings.

Another case is the Orangutan Chantek, one parent Sumatran Orangutan, the other from Borneo. Baby_Chantek was taught sign language as well. Being a_very_clever_guy he was roaming the University campus a bit too excessive and it ended in a somehow tear_jerking_story, since he was taken to Atlanta_Zoo to live with other Oranutans. The Smithonian Magazin in deed identified “six_talking_Apes”.

Kanzi, the Super Star

kanzi-young-age

Kanzi at Young Age

Among all those of our impressive hairy cousins the outstanding “Super Star” is the Bonobo Kanzi. That clever guy was_born_in_1980 into a Bonobo group in a research center. He understands_several_hundred_words in English, can make fire and is a very willing helper to his caretaker. He likes jokes and masquerading. He even learned to telephone, but how? Apes anatomy doesn´t allow them to articulate human language. He managed by a sophisticated_equipment made available to him: a word synthesizer, which allows him to create English words by touching symbols on a Touchscreen.

kanzi-making-fire-2

Kanzi making fire

The Clou

He learned that as a very small kid by observing the futile efforts to teach an elder Bonobo female. But this is the clou: the symbols are totally abstract signs! Nothing that represents in any way the content of the word. Now writing started from pictograms having a connection to the meant content. Only a next step lead to abstract symbols. This was regarded as a very human quality. Well, Kanzi didn´t invent this, but all of us didn´t invent it too (ancestors did long ago), we just learned to understand and use it, so did Kanzi.

kanzi-keyboard

Kanzi´s Keyboard

This means he has the intellectual capacity to connect the abstract symbol with the meaning. And he does that in an impressive way also displaying creativity in covering new items by combination of words. After all this all takes place in a favouring and inspirational enviroment which is far from the normal enviroment of Bonobos. Anyway, Kanzi´s abilities fix a mark in our progress of understanding our closest relatives.

Additional Thoughts

It is interesting that these remarkable abilities in communication are displayed in a Bonobo but not so much in Chimps (both evolutionary equally close to us). Both species hunt, they both also hunt small monkeys, but the common Chimps display much more  and excessive brutality_and_have_wars_among_themselves. Concerning human brutality we equal Chimps more than Bonobos, taking communication abilities and brutality we combine_important_traits_of_both. One thing is clear: concerning self awareness and the emotional make up we humans and our relatives are very close to each other and the potential to suffer is very similar likewise.

On the other side we have to admit that human abilities exceed those ones of our relatives by far. What in our DNA makes the big difference? There´s an interesting point in the discussion: we´re often correctly told that we share around 98 % of the genes with our closest relatives, but there is a difference which is hardly mentioned in popularized science. We have one pair of chomosomes less than the Great Apes because of a chromosomal fusion connecting two chomosomes in humans. By the way, in deed the general question_of_chromosomal_mutation_in_evolution is a scientifically thrilling one. It could have an extraordinary effect on gene_expression. A big question in human evolution is thus: when did this mutation appear? Did it occur by the hybridization of two or more species of the Australopithecines?

Will they survive? And will we Survive?

All Great Apes belong to the endangered_species. In deed many of our relatives end up as “Bushmeat”, which is somhow blamed on the people of Africa. But the scource of this hunting is poverty and the miserable condition Africa has been plunged into and kept in, “Colonialism_is_alive_and_well”! As for the most brilliant of our “cousins”, the Bonobos, future looks very dim, since they live in the Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo. That country is exposed to extreme – Western orchestrated – plunder since the times of Belgian King Leopold_II. DR Congo and the African_Great_Lakes Region have been and are exposed to murderous wars, covered by more than twenty_years_of_brazen_desinformation. This might have cost DR Congo more than eight million deaths during the last 21 years and the murder is going on. Today most important in this is the hunt for Coltan. It is all for “Western progress” and no sweet “partnership_talks” can wipe that away!

The “Powers that (shouldn´t) be”, Great Apes and our Survival

No doubt, we Humans have responsibility for our hairy relatives survival, but even more so for Humanity´s survival. Some benevolent people caring for our relatives at times loose that a bit out of sight. Focussing on general human responsibility for the Great Apes they tend to forget that there are the “Powers that (shouldn´t) be“ even contemplating about wiping_out_large_setions_of_mankind.

Moreover those powers play aggressive “war games” which put even whole mankind´s existence at risk by pushing us to the edge of “Nuclear Armaggedon”. In the end most of us are in “the same boat”, together with our hairy Cousins!

Andreas Schlüter

 

Advertisements