SSSSsss… c-CAW! RrAwr! GIRAFFE!
(an animal story)
I used to walk through the halls of my high school (yes, high school - I don’t know what was wrong with me either) making animal noises. Not the normal ones like “moo” and “oink”, but the more obscure ones (I guess it’s the hipster in me). For instance,
my impression of the Komodo dragon had a sort of snake and bark sound,
and the giraffe, since I had no idea what sound they make (do you?) was just, “giraffe, giraffe!”.
I pretty much made the sounds up as I went along.
I guess it’s weird that I did this in my teenage years, since unabashedly making animal sounds is definitely a fun aspect of every kid I’ve ever encountered. But, the call of the wild never really left me. I remember I taught a 5 year old group at Saturday Morning Club once called Animal Alphabet. Every week as we walked through the galleries, we would make the sounds of the animals we saw in the cases. It would start pretty calmly
… stalking past the tiger, we would “purrrr”;
…tiptoeing passed the snakes, we would all speak in parseltongue;
…flapping past the birds, we’d sing.
In the end, the kids abandoned the idea of mimicking different animals and decided all they wanted to do was roar since it was the most fun – even when we passed the giant squid, though it did evoke a few “ooh”s and “aaah”s.
Pretending to be an animal is so liberating. It allows you to fully embrace your imagination and become something new entirely. You can fly like the albatross, jump like a cricket, even nap like cat. I love how kids can snap into such imaginative roles and really run with it.
THE DYNAMIC HORSE
The dynamism and speed of the horse (Equus ferus) was appreciated at least as far back as the last Ice Age, when Upper Palaeolithic hunters depicted them on caves and other objects in France, such as this object made of antler (possibly an arrow-shaft straightener or a spear-thrower, and what better to impart swiftness to the arrow or dart than calling on the spirit of the horse?). The horse was domesticated possibly at least twice, with one centre being the Eurasian steppes, where horses were certainly domesticated 5,500 years ago as evidenced by DNA and the wear on teeth by use of the bit. However, the “Arab” horse may have been domesticated about 10,000 years ago, and there is also DNA evidence for a different horse strain in what is now Spain. Possibly what would once have been a related wild population spreading from Western Europe through the Middle East to Central Asia is now extinct, with what was once thought to be the last “wild” horse, the Przewalski’s horse, now shown by DNA evidence to not be an ancestor of the domesticated horse at all (photo by Bill Pratt).
THE CLEVER MONKEY
This pot with a monkey on it, being examined for stability by April Hawkins of the New World Archaeology section, was excavated at the Maya site of Lamanai by ROM archaeologists, and is dated to the 15th-early 16th centuries AD. Three types of non-human primates are found in the Maya region: the Howler monkeys (Aloutta pallita & Aloutta pigra), the Spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) and the Capuchin monkey (Cebus capucinus). Revered by the ancient Maya, the monkey was a supernatural patron of the arts and writing, often depicted as the “Monkey-man scribe.” Throughout the lands of Mesoamerica, and right up to the time of contact with Europeans, monkeys were associated with arts, music and dance. The unchecked spread of agriculture and resource extraction activities threaten both monkey habitat and archaeological sites.