Mother or monkeymother?

Scientists have discovered a monkey's voice is as good as a human's for newborn babies:

Straight out of the womb, infants may be just as aroused by a rhesus monkey call as by human speech.

Infants are acute listeners. Previous studies have found newborns perk up more to folk music than white noise. And four-month-olds like listening to people talk more than they like white noise.

But when it comes to sounds made by all things biological, newborn babies might not discriminate.

The preliminary finding was presented here Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science by Athena Vouloumanos, a psychologist at McGill University.

Think what this breakthrough means: no more expensive nannies or daycare, just drop the tots off at the local zoo’s monkey house1 and let our simian cousins do the rest. Monkey babysitters2 will change the lives of busy moms everywhere. Or so one might think. Unfortunately Dr. Athena Vouloumanos3 and her accomplices are insane:

The McGill research group measured a newborn's level of interest in sounds by giving them sterilized pacifiers that measured the frequency and intensity of the baby's sucking.

"There are all kinds of suckers: soft suckers, hard, rapid and slow. When they suck hard, they get to hear a sound, and when they're aroused they suck hard," Vouloumanos said.

Completely mad.

"It was very shocking," Vouloumanos told LiveScience. "I thought for sure that they would prefer the human speech. I kept testing more babies because I couldn't believe it."

"More babies". Where does she get them all?

"If these babies spent the first three months with rhesus monkeys, maybe they'd prefer monkey calls," Vouloumanos said.

So that is the sick purpose of these experiments. And if this deranged woman succeeds in convincing innocent babes to prefer rhesus monkeys to their own mothers...what then?

1Ota Benga was a pygmy from Africa captured and displayed at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. After the fair ended, Ota Benga was forced to live for a time in the monkey house at the Bronx Zoo.

2In the past I’ve advocated dog babysitters. It also seems I talk about monkeys more often than necessary.

3That her name is oddly reminiscent of a Bond femme-fatale does .not surprise me


  1. Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle.

  2. Ha! I notice a typo in that third footnote. Wonder if I'll fix it? Stay tuned...


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