Orangutan catches a bus

Peter Stevens peter.stevens at MOBOT.ORG
Thu Jan 29 09:16:06 CST 2004

>I am dredging through my memory about a certain Sir Haut Ton who I
>believe frequented London society in the 1800s - perhaps in the
>pages of "Punch".  He looked remarkably like an orang hutan, as far
>as I can remember.

P.  :)

>I found what I thought might be an interesting example of a behavioral
>character that may or may not have phylogenetic significance depending on
>whether one recognizes morphology as informative in the first place, and
>behavior as a morphology in the second.
>Imitation is a key element of human learning for children (I think I've
>posted something on this before) and orangutans seem to have this
>inclination in abundance compared with other apes. Is this heightened
>imitation a behavioral synapomorphy? If it could be quantified to show a
>significant difference that support narrative observations perhaps so. Here
>is one intriguing example  (from Kaplan and Rogers 2000):
>"On the fourth and last attempt by the staff at the research station [to
>release into the wild], Judy came up with a novel idea. She decided to take
>a shortcut back. From the release point, she found a back route out of the
>forest to a roadside and a bus stop. Taking a seat at the bus stop, she
>waited alone until the local bus appeared. it was on its way to the
>research station and had a number of passengers, although the front seats
>were empty. The bus stopped and the driver opened the door. The bus driver
>was kind. He had no particular prejudice against orangutans and understood
>her intention to board the bus. he did not insist on the normal bus fare.
>So Judy did not have the long walk back. She got on the bus and without the
>slightest hesitation or sign of insecurity took the seat behind the driver.
>There she sat calmly as the bus made its way to the research station. When
>it arrived the door was opened, she alighted, heading straight for the
>research station. The staff said that she expressed much pleasure at
>meeting her human friends again".

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