Monday, July 26, 2010

I want my monkeyman!

"You are right, I have always known about man. From the evidence, I believe his wisdom must walk hand and hand with his idiocy. His emotions must rule his brain. He must be a warlike creature who gives battle to everything around him, even himself."
           --Dr. Zaius, Planet of the Apes

While indulging in a bit of synthetic stimuli from that thing called the television, I came across an airing of MonsterQuest on The History Channel.  This certain episode was investigating whether or not Josef Stalin tried to breed an army of half man, half ape soldiers to further the Communist vision.   The motivation behind such a thing has always been a direct one.  In theory you would have fighters with human brains but an ape's considerable strength.  You guessed it.  There is very little evidence to suggest Stalin ever did this and if he did try it, it came out a dud.
Turns out the notion is a deeply flawed one.  Even if such a cross-pollination of genetics were capable of being carried out, there is no guarantee that you would get what you wanted.  You could end up with a primate that has human strength but ape intelligence and lack of speech.  Or you could get a human with ape strength that also has an ape's territorial issues and aggressiveness when provoked.  Like the proverbial box of chocolates, you could never know what you were going to get.  So it doesn't look good for a "monkeyman" any time soon.
That led me to question why I have such a fascination with this concept.  Perhaps it was from multiple viewings of the Planet of the Apes movies starting when I was a mere 8 years-old.  The vision of upright-walking gorillas carrying rifles just seemed so cool.  Cool, yet rather sinister at the same time as it does make for a rather unnatural sight.  Maybe it's the fact that apes are so similar to us.  When I look at them in pictures or in a zoo, I halfway expect them to turn to me and start speaking English...or any other language for that matter.  The concept of an "in-between" species may stem from this eerie sense of looking at a not-so-distant relative.  
Given the amount of fiction that surrounds this concept, I must not be the only one fascinated by it.  But until something like Bigfoot ever gets proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, I'm afraid that is all it will remain: fiction.

"I love you, Dr. Zaius!"

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2 comments:

  1. Graymalkin sends us two links that relate to this post:

    From NPR, a controversial fix to genetic problems
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112248236

    The Rhesus monkey: world's first spacemonkey
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhesus_Macaque

    Thanks, man!

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  2. And this link just sent by Whitley Streiber to Facebook: http://www.livescience.com/animals/animal-warfare-could-the-taliban-train-monkeys-to-shoot-100725.html

    Are the Taliban training a baboon army?

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