Hollaback, the "movement dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology," has launched in 10 new cities today, including U.S. towns like Atlanta, Portland and Houston ... But also international locations, like Buenos Aires, London and Mumbai.Jezebel
Inti Maria Tidball-Binz, the leader of Hollaback Buenos Aires, says, "For many of us in Buenos Aires 'piropos,' or 'catcalls' are aggressive and intrusive. We need a fresh approach to local issues, and knowing that the strength of the international Hollaback movement is behind us gives us the impetus to make changes."
Whether it's on the street, in the subway, or at a party, Hollaback encourages women to report comments, groping, flashing or assault; the creators state: "We believe that everyone has a right to feel safe and confident without being objectified."
31 January 2011
30 January 2011
Click image to enlarge
From Riesling to Merlot, wine grapes from around the world are more closely related than expected, says the largest study so far to produce a family tree of grapes. The tree, above, also reveals that in 6000 years of domestication, breeders have left a vast swathe of possible varieties unexplored.More at The New Scientist
Via Nag on the Lake
Australian medical students are carrying out intrusive procedures on unconscious and anaesthetised patients without gaining the patient's consent. The unauthorised examinations include genital, rectal and breast exams, and raise serious questions about the ethics of up-and-coming doctors. The research, soon to be published in international medical journal, Medical Education, describes - among others - a student with "no qualms" about performing an anal examination on a female patient because she didn't think the woman's consent was relevant.Link | Arbroath
Another case outlined in the research describes a man who was subjected to rectal examinations from a "queue" of medical students after he was anaesthetised for surgery. “I was in theatre, the patient was under a spinal (anaesthetic) as well and there was a screen up and they just had a queue of medical students doing a rectal examination,” a student confessed. “[H]e wasn’t consented but because ... you’re in that situation, you don’t have the confidence to say 'no' you just do it.”
The author of the study, Professor Charlotte Rees, voiced concerns about senior medical staff ordering students to perform unauthorised procedures, leaving the students torn between the strong ethics of consent in society and the weak ethics of medical staff. Of students who were put in this position during the research, 82 per cent obeyed orders. “We think that it is weakness in the ethical climate of the clinical workplace that ultimately serves to legitimise and reinforce unethical practices in the context of students learning intimate examinations,” writes Prof Rees. The study consists of 200 students across three unnamed medical schools in Britain and Australia. Not all participants agreed to carry out the intimate examinations without permission from the patient.
Doctors have concluded that, if you find the man in three seconds, then the right half of your brain is better developed than most people's.I couldn't find a source for this illusion. According to Truth or Fiction: We've not found the origin of the picture or any documentation that it is any reliable test of brain development. They call it an example of an "e-rumor."
If you find the man between three seconds and one minute, then the right half of your brain developed normally.
If you find the man between one minute and three minutes, then the right half of your brain is functioning slowly and you need to eat more protein.
If you have not found the man after three minutes, the right half of your
brain is a mess, and the only advice is to look for more of these types of exercises to make that part of your brain stronger.
The man is really there. Keep looking!
It's still fun.
29 January 2011
Qwiki is a new site that offers, as they call it, 'an information experience.' Qwiki was founded by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim. The site includes more than 3 million reference terms. You can enter a search term and Qwiki will display a narrated slideshow on topics with facts pulled from Wikipedia.Here's a Qwiki about bacon:
26 January 2011
People dressed as a traditional local monster scared naughty children and told them to listen to their parents at an event held by the city [Oga] tourism association ... The costumes depicted the monster of the local "namahage" tradition, where people dressed as the monsters visit houses and admonish naughty children. Keeping with the tradition, the event was also meant for parents struggling with children who constantly fight each other, watch TV and won't study, or otherwise cause child-rearing headaches.Mainichi Daily News | Neatorama
Three families totaling 11 people participated in the event. Parents brought their children to the inn to stay the night without telling them about the surprise to come. Suddenly, a namahage monster burst into the room, growling and thrashing around. "Will you listen to your father?" asked a namahage monster of one child. Amidst sobs, and with all the power the child could muster, came the response: "Yes!"
The event is also designed to let families experience the traditional namahage culture and to deepen familial bonds by letting parents "protect" their children from the monster.
The tourism association plans to hold the event again ...
25 January 2011
Department of Defense
The Department of Defense launched a computer-based virtual world last week where soldiers can anonymously learn about the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and where to get help.More here.
Creators of the Virtual PTSD Experience at the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, or T2, hope the program will cut down on stigma associated with the "signature wounds" of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury. Inside the computer-based program, servicemembers can create an avatar, a cartoon-version of themselves, to navigate through realistic scenarios in Second Life, a virtual-reality video game.
... Once logged onto the Virtual PTSD Experience, servicemembers will encounter a visitor's center on "Psychological Health Island," which will lead them through the three sections of the program: causes, symptoms, and next steps. Throughout the virtual experience, users can click on brochure links that will take them to informational websites, connect them with mental-health facilities to schedule an appointment or lead them through relaxation exercises.
24 January 2011
Tucked high in the Qin Ling Mountains of central China, a nimble primate with a peculiar mug has conquered a pitiless landscape. The golden snub-nosed monkey is one of five related species—remnants of once widespread populations whose ranges were squeezed by climate change after the last ice age. Enduring groups, living in territorial bands that can top 400 animals, are being squeezed again by logging, human settlement, and hunters wanting meat, bones (said to have medicinal properties), and luxurious fur. Many have been pushed into high-altitude isolation, where they leap across branches, traverse icy rivers, and weather long winters at nearly 10,000 feet, shielded by that coveted coat.More at National Geographic
23 January 2011
22 January 2011
The Codex Seraphinianus is a book written and illustrated by the Italian artist, architect and industrial designer Luigi Serafini during thirty months, from 1976 to 1978. The book is approximately 360 pages long (depending on edition), and appears to be a visual encyclopedia of an unknown world, written in one of its languages, a thus-far undeciphered alphabetic writing.
The Codex is divided into eleven chapters, partitioned into two sections. The first section appears to describe the natural world, dealing with flora, fauna, and physics. The second deals with the humanities, the various aspects of human life: clothing, history, cuisine, architecture and so on. Each chapter seems to treat a general encyclopedic topic.
The illustrations are often surreal parodies of things in our world ... The writing system ... appears modelled on ordinary Western-style writing systems ... The language of the codex has defied complete analysis by linguists for decades. The number system used for numbering the pages, however, has been cracked ... It is a variation of base 21.
... Serafini has stated that the script of the Codex is asemic, that his own experience in writing it was closely similar to automatic writing, and that what he wanted his alphabet to convey to the 'reader' is the sensation that children feel in front of books they cannot yet understand, although they see that their writing does make sense for grown-ups.SOURCE
View a video of the Codex below or download a copy here.
YouTube | The Anomalist
21 January 2011
From site creator Alex Tew:
I had been thinking how we spend every waking minute of the day with access to an unlimited supply of information, to the point of information overload. i also read somewhere that there is evidence that our brains are being re-wired by the internet, because we get a little dopamine kick every time we check our e-mail or Twitter or Facebook and there’s a new update. So we’re all developing a bit of ADD. which is probably not great in terms of being productive.See how many tries it takes ...
Link via Geekosystem
The lottery of birth is responsible for much of who we are. If you were not born in the country you were, what would your life be like? Would you be the same person?Try drilling down for more information in each category. The site also automatically uses Google maps to compare the sizes of the two countries.
If It Were My Home is your gateway to understanding life outside your home. Use our country comparison tool to compare living conditions in your own country to those of another. Start by selecting a region to compare on the map to the right, and begin your exploration.
You can also use our visualization tool to help understand the impact of a disaster. The Pakistan Flood and BP Oil Spill are currently featured. Check out the individual pages to gain some perspective on these awful tragedies.
19 January 2011
In the four-plus decades since Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, America has surely moved closer to a country where people are judged more by content of their character than the color of their skin—or their gender, religion or sexual orientation. In honor of today’s national holiday, and mindful of the debate fostered by the massacre in Tucson nine days ago, The Daily Beast sought to examine which states are the most tolerant, devising a thorough point system that measures each state’s residents based on their actions and opinions, as well the scope of state laws guaranteeing equal rights and protections, which reflects the broader political will ...Click here for information about methodology, etc., and to see the entire list.
Tolerance score: 77 out of 100
Hate crime score: 27 out of 40
Discrimination score: 39 out of 40
Gay rights score: 3 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 1.0 (10 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 9.2 (5 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 44%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 79%
Tolerance score: 75 out of 100
Hate crime score: 25 out of 40
Discrimination score: 37 out of 40
Gay rights score: 5 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 1.8 (19 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 7.8 (1 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 51%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 72%
Tolerance score: 74 out of 100
Hate crime score: 30 out of 40
Discrimination score: 31 out of 40
Gay rights score: 5 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 1.5 (16 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 14.5 (24 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 48%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 74%
Tolerance score: 72 out of 100
Hate crime score: 29 out of 40
Discrimination score: 31 out of 40
Gay rights score: 4 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 0.4 (5 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 11.8 (13 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 51%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 75%
Tolerance score: 71 out of 100
Hate crime score: 34 out of 40
Discrimination score: 27 out of 40
Gay rights score: 4 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 0.1 (1 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 20.3 (35 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 54%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 66%
18 January 2011
17 January 2011
Headache (detail) | Helen Pynor
Autumn Twist | Andrew Carnie
My Soul | Katharine Dowson
The Brainstorm exhibition ... at GV Art in London ... consists of seven artists considering the human brain, alongside films of a neurological examination and an actual human brain from a multiple sclerosis patient. The different artworks showcase brains in different ways, some of which look like very realistic images of brain tissue and some of which are more fanciful. The gallery is one of the few places in Britain that's licensed to display human tissue, and the brain slices on display are displayed in accordance with a stringent set of rules.io9
Photograph by Harry Borden for The Guardian
I grew up in a small village in Norfolk and was always interested in the natural world and wild animals. I knew I wanted to work with them in some way when I was older. In my 20s, I read about an American naturalist, Levi Holt, who ran a wolf research centre in Idaho and I thought, "That's where I want to go." I sold everything I had and raised enough money for my plane fare. When I met up with biologists working on the reservation, they took me on as a basic field biologist, teaching me how to track wolves and collect data for them.• As told to Fiona Clampin | The Guardian
Even though the other biologists and scientists thought it was dangerous, I soon wanted to get closer to the wolves really to understand their behaviour. I couldn't help wondering, "Could a human become part of their family?" If I could, I thought, imagine what information I could share.
After a year or two of working for the centre and getting to know the area – a rugged, mountainous landscape covered in forest – I moved to the wild. The first time I got up close to a wolf, within around 30 metres, any fear I had quickly turned to respect. I stayed in a den area, a remote spot where wolves look after their young, and very soon one pack began to trust me. I lived with them day and night, and from the start they accepted me into their group. I ate what they ate, mostly raw deer and elk, which they would often bring back for me, or fruit and berries. I never fell ill and my body adapted quickly to its new diet. It's easy to look back and think, "What horrible food", but when you haven't eaten for a week, it looks appetising.
I couldn't hunt, but I soon became useful looking after the younger ones. I would spend days sitting outside the den, observing their behaviour and trying to make sure they kept out of danger.
I stayed with the same pack for over a year, watching pups grow to adulthood. I never missed human contact during that time.
I felt a tremendous sense of belonging with the wolves. Whenever I began to think about my old life, I would quickly switch my thoughts back; in terms of survival, I had constantly to focus on my new habitat. Although I didn't see anyone, there were people back at the reservation and I had a rendezvous point where I could leave messages if I felt I was in danger. I was only ever truly scared on two occasions: once, when all the wolves were feeding, I ate the wrong piece of meat – there is a strict hierarchy of who eats what part of an animal – and one of the wolves leapt on me in seconds because of my mistake. He took my entire face in his mouth and started to squeeze hard. I could feel the bones in my jaw begin to bend, and in that split-second I realised how vulnerable I was and how restrained they were most of the time.
The other time, I wanted to get a drink from the stream and one of the wolves stopped me dead in my tracks, growling, snarling and nipping me. I thought, "This is the end, he's going to finish me off." An hour or so later, he started to lick my face and we both went to the stream for a drink. There I saw evidence of recent bear tracks and droppings, and I realised this was why he guarded me. I would almost certainly have been killed but, more importantly, my tracks would have led back to their young, so it was for their protection.
Eventually I had to leave; I had lost so much weight and looked gaunt and worn after a year . Life expectancy in that sort of environment was short and I felt it was time to come back to society. Returning to the world was a tremendous culture shock, but I knew I could do a lot with the knowledge I'd acquired. I now run a centre in Devon that helps wild and captive wolves, and offers educational courses. I want to show people that wolves aren't savage and ruthless – they are balanced and trustworthy creatures that place their family above all else.
In a study published online January 12 in the journal Neuron, the research team helped identify areas of the brain involved in the choice between taking an immediate reward or deferring for a larger but delayed payoff. The decision involves a complex network that links multiple areas of the brain in a sort of complex feedback loop. “But in the instant before the choice is made, we can predict the outcome of the decision by listening to the firing activity in a single neuron,” said Daeyeol Lee, associate professor of neurobiology and psychology at Yale School of Medicine and senior author of the study.PhysOrg via 3 Quarks Daily
Scientists have described in general terms how the brain responds to potential rewards, such as food, alcohol or sex. However, Lee’s team looked at the information processed at the level of both brain regions and individual cells. They recorded activity in individual neurons of monkeys as they were offered choices between smaller rewards or larger ones, which were delivered after delays. Like humans, monkeys tend to opt for immediate gratification. They found in hundreds of tests that the activity of a single brain cell differed depending upon whether the monkey sought immediate award or delayed one.
From the Oscar-winning team behind Man on Wire comes the story of Nim, the chimpanzee who, in the 1970s, became the focus of a landmark experiment that aimed to prove an ape—if raised and nurtured like a human child—could learn to communicate using sign language. If successful, the consequences of the project would be profound, breaking down the barrier between man and his closest animal relative and fundamentally redefining what it is to be human. Combining the testimony of all the key participants, newly discovered archival film, and dramatic imagery, Project Nim tells the picturesque story of one chimpanzee’s extraordinary journey through human society and the enduring impact he makes on the people he meets along the way.MUBI
16 January 2011
Don Lattin, writing in the Huffington Post:
Here's some rare footage of an experimental LSD session that I came across doing research for my next book, a group biography of British writer Aldous Huxley, philosopher Gerald Heard, and Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. It's from a television program, circa 1956, about mental health issues.BoingBoing
The researcher, Dr. Sidney Cohen, was dosing volunteers at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Los Angeles. Aldous Huxley, who first tried mescaline in 1953 and wrote about it in his seminal book, "The Doors of Perception", got Gerald Heard interested in the spiritual potential of psychedelic drugs. Heard then turned on Bill Wilson, guiding him on an LSD trip supervised by Dr. Cohen in the summer of 1956 -- perhaps in the same room we see in this video. Wilson, who started AA in the 1930s, thought LSD could help alcoholics have the "spiritual awakening" that is such an important part of the twelve-step recovery program he popularized.
Heard and Huxley set the stage for better-known psychedelic research of Timothy Leary, Richard 'Ram Dass' Alpert, Huston Smith and Andrew Weil, who are profiled in my 2010 book, "The Harvard Psychedelic Club."
14 January 2011
Astronomers have restored the original Babylonian zodiac by recalculating the dates that correspond with each sign to accommodate millennia of subtle shifts in the Earth's axis.Gawker
... Here is the zodiac as the ancient Babylonians intended it — with the dates corresponding to the times of the year that the sun is actually in each constellation's "house" — according to the Minnesota Planetarium Society's Parke Kunkle:
Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11
Pisces: March 11-April 18
Aries: April 18-May 13
Taurus: May 13-June 21
Gemini: June 21-July 20
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23
Scorpio: Nov. 23-29
Ophiuchus:* Nov. 29-Dec. 17
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20
* Discarded by the Babylonians because they wanted 12 signs per year.
11 January 2011
Bobby Domecon, the second practice baby, arrived at Cornell in 1920 as a
malnutrition case, but developed normally during his two-year stay.
Beginning in the early 1900s, collegiate home economics programs across the nation included "practice house" programs designed to help female students learn "mothercraft," the scientific art of childrearing. At Cornell each semester, eight women students lived with a resident advisor in the "practice apartment," where they took turns performing a full range of homemaking activities in a scientific and cost-efficient manner.
Response to Cornell's request for babies. Infants were leased from child welfare
organizations around the state through a contract that either side could terminate
if the arrangement proved unsatisfactory.
In 1919, the first practice baby, named Dicky Domecon for "domestic economy," came to Cornell. Cornell secured infants through area orphanages and child welfare associations. Babies were nurtured by the students according to strict schedules and guidelines, and after a year, they were available for adoption. Prospective adoptive parents in this era desired Domecon babies because they had been raised according to the most up-to-date scientific principles.
Babies were held to a strict, scientifically engineered diet by their student "mothers."
Flora Rose, an early proponent of the program, believed that babies were essential to replicate the full domestic experience. Albert Mann, Dean of the College of Agriculture, called the apartments "essential laboratory practice for women students." As time passed, however, new research in child development pointed to the need for a primary bond with a single caregiver, and social changes in the lives of women made the practice house focus on domesticity seem old-fashioned. In addition, by the late 1960s, the ideology most prominent in the college favored hard science over practical applications. By 1969, the year the college changed its name, practice apartments were dropped from the Cornell curriculum.Neatorama
10 January 2011
Congo (1954–1964) was a chimpanzee who learned how to draw and paint. Zoologist and surrealist painter Desmond Morris first observed his abilities when the chimp was offered a pencil and paper at two years of age. By the age of four, Congo had made 400 drawings and paintings. His style has been described as "lyrical abstract impressionism".Link | Article about Congo in the London Times Online
09 January 2011
1. The Power of Love: You love this paper! Well, you love the author. Maybe it's a romantic thing, maybe they once saved your ass by lending you their expertise/equipment/data, or maybe they bought you a drink once at a conference. Either way, they're awesome, so their paper must be fine.Link
2. Bee-in-your-Bonnet: You don't really care about this paper, but you do care, very strongly, about something else which is vaguely related. Many say that you're obsessed by it, though not to your face, because that would start you off talking about it. The problem with this paper is that it doesn't cover your pet idea. If the authors want it published, they'll need to change that, pronto. Major revisions are called for.
3. The Pedant: The paper is atrocious and doesn't deserve to be written on a scrap of toilet paper let alone submitted to this great Journal... in terms of spelling and formatting. Scientifically, you think it's probably pretty good, but it was hard to tell because of the amount of red ink you put all over it. English isn't the author's first language? That's their problem. Isn't that what "minor corrections" are for? No! That's what the bin is for.
4. Cite Me, Me, Me!: The problem with this paper is that it doesn't reference the right previous work... yours. Unless the authors change it to cite everything you've written in the past 10 years, they can get lost. If they do, the paper will be immediately accepted - to reject it would harm your citation count.
5. The Tortoise: You'll review this paper when you get back from holiday. And finished writing your own paper. After that conference. When you've finished your teaching for the year. Maybe. Until you submit your review, the authors are stuck in a horrible limbo, but luckily you're anonymous so they won't know who to send hate mail to.
6. The Cheerleader: This paper is awesome because it supports something that you yourself are about to publish. It's full of methodological holes? Never mind, that will only make your paper better by comparison. It's barely readable? Suggest edits to make it just about comprehensible so people can tell how well it supports you. Then accept a.s.a.p.
7. Wrong End of the Stick: You think you understand this paper, but actually you don't. So your review completely misses the point. When the authors point this out, you have two options: a) blame the paper for being confusing, and chuck it out or b) decide the whole thing is much too complicated to spend time over, and accept it.
8. The Perfect Reviewer: You are an intelligent, informed expert, new enough to the field that you have no axe to grind, and you take the time to read the paper fully, and return a constructive, perceptive review within a couple of weeks. Well done. Unfortunately, there are 1 or 2 other reviewers, and there's only a 1 in 8 chance they'll be like you...
Dr. Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist at C.U.N.Y. He "explores paradoxical and counterintuitive oddities of the physical world" in his Big Think blog, Dr. Kaku's Universe.
Every Wednesday, he answers questions about physics and futuristic science. In this video, Dr. Kaku responds to the question: Could one crank up the vibrational frequency of their body to a higher dimension, move around in that dimension, and then crank the frequency back down somewhere else?
On 25 March 2010, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was interviewed on MSNBC about the increasingly violent tone of political rhetoric, especially regarding President Obama's health care bill. Beginning at 2:07, she comments on her district's inclusion on Sarah Palin's "Hit List."
Huffington Post | Click image to enlarge
Palin's Facebook page ... carries a map featuring 20 gun sights, one for each of the Democrats targeted this year by her political action committee SarahPAC. Three of the gun sights, those where incumbent Democrats have already announced their retirement, are colored red.
Click image to enlarge
What is it? It was found at the bottom of the sea aboard an ancient Greek ship. Its seeming complexity has prompted decades of study, although some of its functions remained unknown. Recent X-rays of the device have now confirmed the nature of the Antikythera mechanism, and discovered several surprising functions. The Antikythera mechanism has been discovered to be a mechanical computer of an accuracy thought impossible in 80 BC, when the ship that carried it sunk. Such sophisticated technology was not thought to be developed by humanity for another 1,000 years. Its wheels and gears create a portable orrery of the sky that predicted star and planet locations as well as lunar and solar eclipses. The Antikythera mechanism, shown above, is 33 centimeters high and similar in size to a large book.Astronomy Picture of the Day
06 January 2011
Segways and scooters definitely look fun to ride, but the vehicles ... invariably carry a heavy nerd stigma. Benjamin Gulak and his BPG Motors company may challenge that stereotype, however, with the sleek and impressive Uno III. The adaptable vehicle actually morphs from an upright "Segway-like" mode into a horizontal, street-cycle position. Even better: it can apparently execute the conversion while in motion.Switched
Inspired by the overcrowded and polluted streets of China, Gulak actually embarked on the Uno project as a high school student. Now, his collapsible baby can effectively fit in an elevator, and -- according to CNET -- will eventually boast a top speed of "about 35 miles per hour and have a range of about 30 miles." BPG intends to release the scooter-bike on a limited basis "in about a year," so, if you want to look really awesome in a 'Fast and Furious' nerd sort of way, you'll still have to wait a little while.
05 January 2011
04 January 2011
Over The Limit is a cable show that takes viewers along with police as they deal with "rowdy revelers and all manner of miscreants who appear to be over the limit and over the top." This clip was selected by The Soup as its Clip of the Year.
Click Gawker.TV to see the other four top clips.
03 January 2011
Chimpanzees at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia.
The human ego has never been quite the same since the day in 1960 that Jane Goodall observed a chimpanzee feasting on termites near Lake Tanganyika. After carefully trimming a blade of grass, the chimpanzee poked it into a passage in the termite mound to extract his meal. No longer could humans claim to be the only tool-making species. The deflating news was summarized by Ms. Goodall’s mentor, Louis Leakey: “Now we must redefine tool, redefine Man, or accept chimpanzees as human.”Read more at The New York Times
So what have we actually done now that we’ve had a half-century to pout? In a 50th anniversary essay in the journal Science, the primatologist William C. McGrew begins by hailing the progression of chimpanzee studies from field notes to “theory-driven, hypothesis-testing ethnology.”
He tactfully waits until the third paragraph ... to deliver the most devastating blow yet to human self-esteem. After noting that chimpanzees’ “tool kits” are now known to include 20 items, Dr. McGrew casually mentions that they’re used for “various functions in daily life, including subsistence, sociality, sex, and self-maintenance.”
... The tool for sex, he explained, is a leaf. Ideally a dead leaf, because that makes the most noise when the chimp clips it with his hand or his mouth. “Males basically have to attract and maintain the attention of females,” Dr. McGrew said. “One way to do this is leaf clipping. It makes a rasping sound. Imagine tearing a piece of paper that’s brittle or dry. The sound is nothing spectacular, but it’s distinctive.”
“The male will pluck a leaf, or a set of leaves, and sit so the female can see him. He spreads his legs so the female sees the erection, and he tears the leaf bit by bit down the midvein of the leaf, dropping the pieces as he detaches them. Sometimes he’ll do half a dozen leaves until she notices ... Presumably she sees the erection and puts two and two together, and if she’s interested, she’ll typically approach and present her back side, and then they’ll mate.”