Look At Those Clothes!

Musings on style and fashion

“Let Me Show You How to Stick That Grass in Your Ear . . .”

Young Chimp_NatlGeo

“Now, where did I leave my ear grass?” (Photo from National Geographic)

You know, right, that chimpanzees are, genetically speaking, our closest relatives? Well, it seems we share more than genes; we also share a love of earrings—or at least of ear decorations. The Man in the Plaid Shirt sent me this great little piece from one of his science journals about chimpanzees sticking grass in their ears, seemingly for no other reason than for self-decoration: They like the way it looks.  This trend is called, appropriately enough, “grass-in-ear-behaviour” (British scientists), and it doesn’t seem to have any survival-related purpose. It’s anyone’s guess what they’re thinking while they’re dressing up, but watch them adorning themselves with their grass bits and you’re left with the sense that they’re definitely thinking something.

The  scientists studying these guys say they’ve observed only one troop of chimps (the fashion-forward troop, obviously) doing the grass thing; in troops living nearby, they’ve seen it happen only once. Boys do it as well as girls, and get this: The chimps learn from one another. The scientists have snagged video of a boy watching some ladies adjust their ear grass and then trying it himself (it’s hard to see, but keep a close watch at 1:03 minutes).

Just goes to show ya: Style knows no species. I wonder if our close cousins started the current trend for wearing just one major earring. Or did they read about it in the Jungle Journal?



Categories: Fashion & Science (No, Really)

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