Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Orangutan hunting fish with spear
November 8, 2008 5:05 PM   Subscribe

Yes, hoomon, we cans.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (44 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you teach them, they can learn.

*starts teaching orangutang to mix cocktails*
posted by jonmc at 5:13 PM on November 8, 2008


I saw this on Stumble a week ago. Completely amazing, if it isn't a Photoshop.
posted by paisley henosis at 5:18 PM on November 8, 2008


I know for absolutely sure I saw this much more than a week ago (and the post is dated from April, which may be when). It must have been from MeFi because it's my main source of links, but I can't find it.
posted by DU at 5:22 PM on November 8, 2008


Well that's it. We're going to have to wipe them out.
posted by Citizen Premier at 5:25 PM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


And the Orangutang that is best at it will be the most well fed and have more children?

Tool directed evolution?

Wonder what would happen to this guy and his descendants if we disappeared off the planet tomorrow. In about a million years anyways.
posted by dibblda at 5:27 PM on November 8, 2008


Well that's it. We're going to have to wipe them out.

The current Google ad for this thread is:
CAKES

[Picture of a yummy-looking multi-layered chocolate cake]

Find delicious cakes for any occasion — Delivered!
We are so advanced that we have not only invented cake, not only invented multiple occasions which call for cake, but we have invented a way to click a few buttons and have someone send us cake.

The spear-fisher is no threat to us.
posted by CKmtl at 5:37 PM on November 8, 2008 [17 favorites]


Woopdy friggin do. I've been throwing sticks at things for years.
posted by Large Marge at 5:38 PM on November 8, 2008


The spear-fisher is no threat to us.

Just wait till he spears your cake.
posted by jonmc at 5:39 PM on November 8, 2008 [10 favorites]


Call me when they get self-loathing.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 5:47 PM on November 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


Silly apes, evolution is a cul-de-sac. Once they invent the internet, they'll start back the way they came.
posted by felix betachat at 5:48 PM on November 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


So let me get this clear. This particular orang with tons of human contact spears fish already on fishing lines and steals them? How does this make him more "advanced" than those monkeys that watch for open windows and ransack apartments in India?

In other orang news, the orangutans at the National Zoo in Washington take great delight in using their system of wires called the O-line to hang above pathways and shit on the humans that stand below to take photos.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:51 PM on November 8, 2008


Don't forget that it is Orange for Orangutan Day on Friday 14th November.
posted by johnnyfive at 5:52 PM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who thinks that photo looks strange and possibly faked?

I'm a bit of a concern troll on this, because I think if true this picture is fantastic. It just looks photoshopped to me.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:55 PM on November 8, 2008


So let me get this clear. This particular orang with tons of human contact spears fish already on fishing lines and steals them? How does this make him more "advanced" than those monkeys that watch for open windows and ransack apartments in India?


... Because one is using a spear (a tool) and one isn't? It's not as if tool usage is a new phenomena in primates and Orangutans, but using a spear is magnitudes more advanced than taking food from an open window.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:56 PM on November 8, 2008


Am I the only one who thinks that photo looks strange and possibly faked?

So help me, I originally read that as "possibly naked." Which struck me as strange, since monkeys run around naked all the time, the lucky bastards. and they like to smoke cigars.
posted by jonmc at 5:58 PM on November 8, 2008


Jon honey...so do you...so do you. The naked, running, cigar thing, it's just one of your charms, really. Now, if you had spear fishing to your naked, running, cigar smoking repertoire, then by god, we've got something.
posted by dejah420 at 6:03 PM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


And the Orangutang that is best at it will be the most well fed and have more children?

Tool directed evolution?


Ok, ok, I'll by an Iphone...
posted by mecran01 at 6:09 PM on November 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


buy.
posted by mecran01 at 6:09 PM on November 8, 2008


I will see your spear fishing and raise you canooing , washing, hammering and sawing.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 6:20 PM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Didn't think it was fake, because the article describes the orangutan as failing at spearing the fish directly, but then figuring out to he could spear fish caught in the local fishermans nets. If it was fake, mostly likely they would say it caught fish that weren't in the net, for added WOW factor. The photo doesn't seem fake at cursory glance.

Anyway, here's a short blog post about whether it's fake or not.

The initial link credits the photo to Gerd Schuster, co author of the book Thinkers of the Jungle. However, this link notes that one of the co-authers, Jay Ullal, is a noted photographer and also mentions the photo in the original link. Possibly Ullal took the photo and the original link miscredits it.

Since the photo is supposedly from a book authored by three noted individuals, I'm guessing it's not fake.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:21 PM on November 8, 2008


raise you canooing , washing, hammering and sawing

The key point seems to be that they're imitating what they've seen as opposed to coming up with the idea themselves. The one that was sawing didn't seem to have a purpose in mind per se, but just enjoyed doing it. The washing was similar. Using the canoe at least had purpose.

Call me when they can drive a speedboat and learn about machine guns.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:28 PM on November 8, 2008


This primatology blog, however, has some sickeningly adorable photos as well as some that are just plain sickening.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 6:29 PM on November 8, 2008


He wasn't spearfishing, he was trying to snag his dropped car keys.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:31 PM on November 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


its narrated by David Attenborough... so it must be true!
posted by Severian at 6:39 PM on November 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


The key point seems to be that they're imitating what they've seen as opposed to coming up with the idea themselves.

The article actually states that the spear fishing orangutan was also imitating spear fishermen he had seen. In fact, even if that was omitted from the article that's what I would naturally assume anyway, particularly as the orangutan would have encountered fishermen from time to time. This isn't to take anything away from the orangutan's ingenuity, but to further show just how closely related we are. They learn through observation, just as we do. How many things do you do a day did you actually come up with yourself? I bet it's far less than you would imagine.

Orangutans are the very definition of an educated species. The fact that their kind is on the brink of extinction is, to me, the very worst form of anti-intellectualism.

But then, my favourite toy as a child was a plush orangutan, so I'm probably heavily biased.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 6:42 PM on November 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


*gets naked, spears cigar, runs with fish*
posted by jonmc at 6:52 PM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ok, ok, I'll by an Iphone...

Ha...I'll try that argument with my significant other myself :-)
posted by dibblda at 6:56 PM on November 8, 2008


It's cool, just looks very CG-ish to me... like the way Gollum looked in LOTR, like the lighting just isn't quite right.

And I'm the type that gets pissed at people always claiming everything is fake...
posted by zhivota at 7:11 PM on November 8, 2008


As soon as I saw the headline, I started singing Do the Evolution (NSFW probably). You just wait. They'll be ruling the earth one d... oh.
posted by saturnine at 7:26 PM on November 8, 2008


Simply using an object to help do something is not that unusual. What is impressive is modifying to make it better suited for a task. In fact, some authors define a tool exclusively as a modified object.

It is the making of tools -- the modification of naturally occurring objects to enhance their utility -- that is really rare among higher animals. That pole does not appear to have been made by the orangutan. Rather, it looks like it was "borrowed" from a hoomin. Considering that chimps are known to actually make spears to hunt, I'm not amazed by this.

Wikipedia's take.
posted by Xezlec at 7:36 PM on November 8, 2008


Is that the Loch Ness monster in the background?
posted by dirigibleman at 7:48 PM on November 8, 2008


Previously. See second link.
posted by HE Amb. T. S. L. DuVal at 7:59 PM on November 8, 2008


Why do orangutans have big nostrils?

They have big fingers.
posted by netbros at 8:08 PM on November 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


Ook.
posted by dazed_one at 11:03 PM on November 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


When an orangutan can explain to his offspring how to make a spear without his offspring ever encountering a spear before, then I'll be interested.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:03 AM on November 9, 2008


I'm interested.

But is it certain that the photo isn't fake and that our lovely ginger friend is actually fishing? Was he just jabbing or was he jabbing at fish? Did he make any attempt to find or make a point? Was there any beer on the shore?
posted by pracowity at 6:10 AM on November 9, 2008


When an orangutan can explain to his offspring how to make a spear without his offspring ever encountering a spear before, then I'll be interested.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:03 AM on November 9 [+] [!]


Actually, that's a lot harder than you think. Have you ever tried explaining to a kid where Mexico is if they have never been there? Or what Mars is if they have never seen pictures or video? (I've been tutoring lately, and struggled with just these examples.)

There's a reason that we have pictures and diagrams in our textbooks. Because sometimes language just doesn't cut it.
posted by jb at 7:12 AM on November 9, 2008


Between this article about animals learning to use sticks as tools and the other recent MeFi article about the stick getting inducted to the toy hall of fame, it seems a bit stick-heavy over here this weekend.

However, the two articles together raise an interesting point: we're so far ahead of those underevolved chumps that we can use their food gathering tools as mere toys. I bet in a million years, future humans will look back at us using tractors to make food and look at their four year olds driving around their backyard on tractors and derisively snort.
posted by Kiablokirk at 8:21 AM on November 9, 2008


That is quite a racist thing to say.
posted by nagunak at 10:40 AM on November 9, 2008


Spear hits fish. Fish dead. Fish is now food! Tasty food. Feels good to have food. Hey! It's Beta Female With The Red Hair. She is upset! Tall Naked One is chasing her! Trying to take Beta Female With The Red Hair! Take away from Family! Angry! Spear hits fish. Fish dead.

And then things get interesting.
posted by The Whelk at 10:40 AM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tall Naked One is chasing her!

All I wanted was a banana, dude.
posted by jonmc at 2:51 PM on November 9, 2008


I bet in a million years, future humans will look back at us using tractors to make food and look at their four year olds driving around their backyard on tractors and derisively snort.

If million years hence four year olds are not telepathically controlling armies of sentient miniature tractor beings constructed with subatomic precision to build genetically engineered tree houses that make food, water, and clean electricity then we will have utterly failed.

Actually, if you really try to imagine what things will be like in a million years (barring catastrophe for us) you'll start to go insane with possibilities and unknown variables. A good kind of insane, mind you. It's our sorry lot to not be able to really know the future.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:26 PM on November 9, 2008


Apparently in learning to speak sign language, apes, like humans, do better when they start as infants. I wonder what tools designed for ape use and a very patient humans following mother-child pairs around, demonstrating stuff, would do to effect their skill with things?
posted by Phalene at 9:21 AM on November 10, 2008


I'm still more concerned about their experiments with telekinesis
posted by queensissy at 11:03 AM on November 10, 2008


« Older Man walks on water from the archives of the Chicag...  |  Cecil, a short film by Terri T... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments