The L Files

Monkey love

The premise of King Kong may not be as far-fetched as we might want to think.
Joshua Bearman has an entertaining and provocative piece on the real King Kong in L.A. Weekly. He points to the latest research that points to what human imagination has always suspected: that gorillas are not that different than human beings, making the prospect of monkey love a la King Kong not all that outlandish.
Either way, it’s now clear that we’re all much closer cousins than the Victorians could have imagined. Perhaps even kissing cousins. Cooper and Schoedsack weren’t entirely off their rockers when they cast Kong and Fay Wray in a “great romance.” Humans share enough DNA and chromosomal similarity with both gorillas and chimpanzees — we’re 99 percent genotypically congruent with chimps — that offspring might be possible, were biologists unscrupulous enough to try it. There’s always suspicion they may have already; for some reason, Japan often gets fingered as the place that has secretly developed primate crossbreeds. And then there was the case of Oliver, a circus chimpanzee who seemed so human — he lived with a family in South Africa, where he liked to feed the dogs and sip whiskey while watching TV — that he was tested for human parentage. He came up negative, but in the end Oliver had to be sold because he developed an overpowering sexual interest in his female owner and woman visitors. [L.A. Weekly]
Mercifully, the vast majority of gorillas show no such interest in this form of inter-species communication. Okay, so Koko has a bit of a "nipple fetish."

To all this I say, let's stick to sign language.
Lakshmi Chaudhry is a senior editor at In These Times, and the former senior editor of AlterNet. You can write to her at [email protected].
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