Bonobos (And Maybe Baboons) Domesticated Themselves
While evidence indicates that humans domesticated themselves, we’re not the only primates capable of self-domestication. Bonobos and baboons have shown they are just as capable of turning a kinder, gentler, and more cuddly culture into hardwired changes in their genomes.
Bonobos, aka the “sexy ape”, look a lot like chimpanzees and share the same forest habitat. It stands to reason that they should be similar in most other regards, but the two species are wildly different. On a physical level, bonobos have smaller skulls and canine teeth, but their greatest differences lie in the social realm. Bonobos are the laid-back lovers compared to the chimpanzee’s neurotic warmongers.
Bonobos spend more time playing and grooming than chimps. They have sex for just about any reason: so say hello, to solve conflicts, to celebrate finding food. A “bonobo handshake” is not how humans would want to start a business meeting. In the bonobo’s reduced physical stature and playful spirit, researchers have recently recognized the same changes that occurred when wolves became dogs, or when aurochs became cattle. But while dogs needed humans for domestication, bonobos have done it all on their own.
Ancient Man Impacted Environment Already
The human environmental impact on our planet is hardly underestimated nowadays. Scientist agree humans are to blame for Global Warming – some are already dreaming up scenario’s of geo-engineering to undo the damage. Untouched old nature is almost nowhere to be found anymore besides perhaps some small areas on the South pole, in the deep sea or if one looks up at the stars – although the brighter ones may well be satellites. “We were here”, is written all over. So when did the writing begin? Much earlier than thought.
According to the common perception the human impact on the environment is fairly recent and thought to have started in concert with the 19th centuries industrial revolution. Presumably, in earlier times humans lived in harmony with their environment. That popular romantic view however, is increasingly being challenged.
Recent work of artist Jalila Essaïdi exemplifies of how science and art can meet and create meaningful inventions for society. Jalila Essaïdi used the spider silk produced by Randy Lewis’ goats to develop a partially bulletproof supernatural human skin.
The goal of the project is to “Improve the sense of security”. The project raises questions as: How far do we want to go, as individuals and society in general, to feel secure? With this project Jalila Essaïdi is one of the three winners of the Designer and Artists 4 Genomics (DA4G) Award 2010, an initiative by the Centre for Society and Genomics and Waag Society’s Wetlab to stimulate young artists and designers to work with living organisms, living tissues and biotechnology (bio-arts). The money attached to this award gave Jalila Essaïdi the opportunity to make prototypes of the skin and test these at a firing range. The Bulletproof Skin and the other winning projects are exhibited until January 8th 2012 in the museum of the Dutch centre of biodiversity Naturalis.