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December 31, 2011 3:27 AM   Subscribe

He was taught to use matches, a skill he picked up quickly. There’s something eerie about watching Kanzi strike a match. The way he then holds the flame — taking care not to burn himself — is remarkably human. (video)
posted by Blazecock Pileon (42 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great ape day on Metafilter! Every post today has involved apes.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 3:33 AM on December 31, 2011


I'm conflicted about this. On the one hand, hey cool! He's learned how to light a fire. On the other hand, do I really trust a chimpanzee with the knowledge of how to set things on fire? Perhaps it's naive of me. Is it enough to use the same kinds of precautions one would use around young children?
posted by bardophile at 3:45 AM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Today, fire. Tomorrow, assault rifles. We all know where this is going. The apes will rise against us!
posted by greenhornet at 3:51 AM on December 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


On the other hand, do I really trust a chimpanzee with the knowledge of how to set things on fire?

You're on Team Zeus, then?
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 4:10 AM on December 31, 2011 [16 favorites]


You're on Team Zeus, then?

?
posted by bardophile at 4:23 AM on December 31, 2011


Today, fire. Tomorrow, assault rifles. We all know where this is going. The apes will rise against us!

Just like the children!
posted by srboisvert at 4:39 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it enough to use the same kinds of precautions one would use around young children?

Yes, give a chimp fire as you would give a child fire: only when you're sure you're in a position to take it back or douse it before something bad happens. With a child, that's pretty much always. With a chimp, that's pretty much never.

Pan troglodytes is highly skillet in ripping and chewing faces, hands, feet, and testicles right off people. You have to be able to get the matches back before a fire-maddened J. Fred Muggs eats Dave Garroway alive on live television and burns down the station. I guess a fire hose and a pistol would be handy things to have around a torch-bearing chimp. Unless the chimp gets the gun.
posted by pracowity at 4:53 AM on December 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


What would happen if he was released into the wild where other bonobos could copy his behaviour? And could wild bonobos learn how to master fire independently just like our own ancestors? You don’t have to be a fan of the Planet Of The Apes movies - in which intelligent apes threaten mankind’s supremacy on the Earth - to find those questions disturbing.

Wow. The Daily Mail are just asking the questions. The very, very stupid questions. It's like Huffington Post with paychecks and race hate.
posted by jaduncan at 5:06 AM on December 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


psst - bardophile :)
posted by likeso at 5:18 AM on December 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Pan troglodytes is highly skillet

Well, Kanzai certainly is.
posted by snofoam at 5:22 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is a more useful skill to learn in today's world - using the iPad or striking a match?
posted by infini at 5:46 AM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Funny. I was more disturbed by the leash around his neck than about the fire.
posted by Goofyy at 6:09 AM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pan troglodytes is highly skillet in ripping and chewing faces, hands, feet, and testicles right off people.
Homo Sapiens use tools to do those things. Much more civilized. Also, Kanzi is a Pan Paniscus
Funny. I was more disturbed by the leash around his neck than about the fire.
They took the leash off once they got to where they were going to setup the fire, apparently, it's off for most of the video. Also, I kind of doubt a 50 year old woman is going to be able to do much to keep a chimp in check, leash or no.
posted by delmoi at 6:14 AM on December 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


All well and good but when will Kanzi learn you don't use metal utensils on non stick pans?
posted by Dr.Pill at 6:17 AM on December 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


What would happen if he was released into the wild where other bonobos could copy his behaviour?

They would very quickly run out of matches.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:26 AM on December 31, 2011 [24 favorites]


Well, Kanzai certainly is.

You think I wrote "Pan troglodytes is highly skillet" by accident?

posted by pracowity at 6:34 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


They ought to teach him the string/bow/etc method.
posted by delmoi at 6:43 AM on December 31, 2011


Philosopher Dirtbike: "You're on Team Zeus, then?"

Sue Savage-Rumbaugh is on Team Prometheus, that much is clear.
posted by adamrice at 6:48 AM on December 31, 2011


psst - bardophile :)

ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh *blushes at having forgotten this part of Greek mythology and fails to think of suitably witty comeback to Philosopher Dirtbike.*
posted by bardophile at 6:53 AM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Funny. I was more disturbed by the leash around his neck than about the fire.

Me as well. Hated and distrusted this woman from the first frame because of the leash.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:58 AM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is clearly in violation of the Prime Directive.
posted by Daddy-O at 7:02 AM on December 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ape shall not harm ape!

practice your brachiation, folks
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:06 AM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


step one - teach chimps to use matches - check
step two - lead them to the door of multinational banks
step three - warm the masses in the glow of intense irony
posted by any major dude at 7:24 AM on December 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


You're on Team Zeus, then?

I'm on Team Zaius, personally.
posted by briank at 7:26 AM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


"he was never told to make a fire...break it up for me! Excellent! Excellent!"
posted by howfar at 7:56 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, Kanzi is a Pan Paniscus

I would think the appeal of matches must soon pale next to the perpetual orgy that is bonobo life.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:00 AM on December 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is cool, but not quite as cool as I hoped it'd be. I didn't see anything suggesting that Kanzi has actually learned to make a fire. What he's learned to do is how, with matches or a lighter, to light things on fire.

There is an art to actually making a fire in a way that will permit one to do interesting things with it, like heat a structure or cook food. Or even just go for more than a few minutes. This is something most humans don't know how to do anymore, and it's not exactly the easiest or most obvious thing in the world even for people that know what they're doing. Maybe this ape has learned how to do some of those things, but the pictures and video certainly didn't indicate such.

So, again, what we've got is an ape that likes lighting shit on fire. And I mean, that's cool, because 1) lighting shit on fire is awesome, and 2) most apes can't do that. But this is sort of the same thing with the controversy over whether apes can acquire language using lexigrams. Koko etc. aside, it's really hard to tell how much of this is just trained behavior--which apes are really good at!--and how much is what we could consider actual comprehension. The trainers obviously want it to be one way, but it may be the other way.
posted by valkyryn at 8:09 AM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I, too, am conflicted about this. On the one hand, this is really cool, since it could lead to some new ideas about how our brains work. On the other hand, it's the Daily Fail, so it's probably way less cool than it would seem at first glance.

On preview, what valkyrun said.
posted by daniel_charms at 8:14 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Today, fire. Tomorrow, assault rifles.
posted by phoque at 8:18 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Edward Lear got there first.

There was an Old Man of the Cape,
Who possessed a large Barbary ape,
Till the ape one dark night
Set the house all alight,
Which burned that Old Man of the Cape.
posted by happyroach at 9:04 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not in favor of letting our ape cousins play with fire. Fire is dangerous enough in human hands!

What if this bonobo burned himself?
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:12 AM on December 31, 2011


Fast forward ten years, when all fast food cooks are bonobos. More difficult to train but much sought after since they are happy being paid in fruit and grubs.
posted by TheRedArmy at 9:12 AM on December 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Give an ape a box of matches, and they can cook hamburgers for up to 60 days.
Teach an ape how to make matches...
posted by seanyboy at 9:17 AM on December 31, 2011


Teach an ape how to make matches... and he'll want an upgrade to iPad
posted by infini at 9:35 AM on December 31, 2011


Kanzi carries his barbie in a backpack

Awww. He likes cooking outside over a fire and he has a doll!

Oh, wait... never mind.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:41 AM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Teach an ape how to make matches... and he'll want an upgrade to iPad

It's okay. He just wants to log into match.com and check out the orangutans.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:43 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pan troglodytes is highly skillet in ripping and chewing faces, hands, feet, and testicles right off people. You have to be able to get the matches back before a fire-maddened J. Fred Muggs eats Dave Garroway alive on live television and burns down the station. I guess a fire hose and a pistol would be handy things to have around a torch-bearing chimp. Unless the chimp gets the gun.

I love you so much right now, pracowity.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:33 AM on December 31, 2011


At the end of the video, I only thought, "I hope the camera man went back and *actually* put out the fire in that dry brush fire awaiting field." And that if I were the bonobo, I'd punch the lady until she stopped talking in that ear-banging high pitched voice of hers. Ow.
posted by RedEmma at 11:08 AM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


The funny thing is I literally had just finished watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes last night when I came upstairs and this was at the top of Metafilter. Rather than watching it then, I went to bed to save myself some nightmares.
posted by hincandenza at 2:02 PM on December 31, 2011


They didn't so much teach him to build a fire, as teach him to use matches/a lighter. Impressive, and safe until he figures out where to swipe matches.
posted by theora55 at 4:02 PM on December 31, 2011


Breaking Primate News: Banana Sam has been found safe.
posted by homunculus at 10:22 PM on December 31, 2011


His behaviour with the wood was more impressive: collecting branches, breaking them with his foot, and throwing them on the fire with apparent purposiveness. I also admired his restraint in dealing with the lady, who (despite his leash) he could easily overpower.
posted by Bradfordian at 11:21 AM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


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