Thursday, 7 November 2013

Mindfulness Stick

'Way back in January 2011 I wrote an article about walking sticks. In it I posited that this oldest of purpose-made tools was quintessentially – and uniquely – human. "When," I asked, "was the last time you saw a lion, or a kangaroo, or even a chimpanzee, walk with a stick?"

Well, as it happens, the universe loves knocking over cocky eejits, and now I learn that 'way backer in 2005, scientists in the Republic of Congo documented the crap out of several lowland gorillas doing exactly that. Not only did they carry their walking sticks just like humans (see photo), they used them to steady themselves on erratic surfaces and to probe streambeds for footworthiness. And that’s not all: they also mindfully collected their stick blanks and specifically and systematically crafted them into useful tools. Hell, they did everything but rub them with trinity tar. (At least, they haven't been observed doing it. Yet.)

So there we have it, oh-so-brilliant humanity. That sound we hear behind us is dependent co-arising, dependently co-arising.

(Photo courtesy of PLOS Biology.)
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