It can’t quite be called evolution in action, but it’s certainly worth taking a closer look at. Two gorillas in two different zoos have been seen displaying behaviors that could be considered downright human – far more so than most people think. And so the question has to be asked. Just how “human” can a gorilla be? And is extended proximity to humans actually making them smarter? Or are looks -in this case- deceiving?
2011 has already been a year of weird animals from strange creatures being discovered, others mysteriously dying, and now gorillas actually acting like humans including using electronics and even walking upright. And the behavior, in addition to being curiously human looking also seems to suggest the walking style of the legendary creature known to the world as Bigfoot.
For years evolutionary biologists have declared that walking upright is one of the key human characteristics that led to our brains increasing in size, our hands becoming as dexterous as they are, and our social culture to have evolved the way it is. So what should we think when we see a gorilla walking on two legs? If it were only a few feet it wouldn’t really be worth mentioning, but Ambam of Port Lympne Wild Animal Park has been walking around on two legs more than ever before. The gorilla apparently learned the technique from his father Bitam who would walk on two legs occasionally to keep his hands free when carrying food. Ambam, however, has taken the behavior to the next level wowing onlookers the world over both in person and on Youtube. Currently the ape has several fans and almost half a million views since the video of him walking on two legs very much like a human first went up.
It almost looks like he’s actually a person in an ape costume. But by a second or third look it’s very apparent that this is not the case. It’s not a larcenous Bigfoot or a trainer in a costume, it’s actually a gorilla.
Elsewhere, a child dropping his game system in a San Francisco zoo was amazed when gorillas quickly swarmed around it and began curiously playing with it – even holding it like humans do. Was it emulating a behavior it had seen elsewhere, or was it reaching past that and trying to learn to use a curious gadget it found much like we do?
While it may be a simple story in itself, gorillas walking and even looking like they’re playing a videogame, perhaps the reason it’s interesting to so many isn’t because it’s about another species, but because we see the potential in gorillas to be more like us. And though it may look at first like they’re becoming more human, maybe we’re just seeing that human behaviors just aren’t as exclusive as we once thought they were. It’s no mystery that gorillas are intelligent, but just how intelligent will have to remain a mystery unless we can actually see in their minds. And until that day we can only look with amazement at our similarities.