Week 9: The 1.2% Difference between Us and Them

Last week in lecture we had guest speakers come in and share. What stood out to me the most was Rachel Mayeri’s work with primate cinema because of its juxtaposition of the humans in the bar. It made me realize how humans have so much in common with other animals, especially primates. It was really interesting to see the comparison next to each other. Mayeri’s work is very creative and from those experiences we are viewing form a non-traditional experiment perspective. It opened my eyes on ape interaction and I think the interaction of humans dressing up as apes is really entertaining. In Primate Cinema, the body langue and movement depicts the details of different facial expression and mouth movement of leading bamboo. It reminded me of my visits to the zoo when I was a child. I remember this one time I observed orangutans for the longest time and just by watching their movement. I ran across the long panel of glass and surprisingly the orangutan did the same thing on the other side of the glass. It is so vivid in my memory how smartly primates can imitate human gestures and movement. Chimpanzees are highly visual animals just like humans and which creates the connection between humans and primates. We tend to have high levels of observation visually and so do them.

This is a video of chimpanzees and bonobos. The difference shown is that chimpanzees are more violent and has a “dark side” like humans where the bonobos are very loving and genuine.


I remember learning about Kanzi in a child psychology class. We did a comparison of humans and bonobos. Kanzi is an amazing bonobo who can understand novel sentences and has learned the capability to use a lexigram. He is able to identify the items and symbols to create language.

Overall, I think primates have the ability to be trained like humans. However, the question is what is the line we should not cross and what segregates our world with their world. I feel like through the video of Kanzi, these primates should be less human-like and run in the wild instead. It is fun and fascinating to see what animals can do and how similar they are to humans but the question lies on what are we looking forward to in the future with these animal interactions? What are the challenges we might face and how will these animals take place in human society?

-Wen Kuo


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