On the subject of primates: Curious George, monkey or ape?

by meanlouise on June 24, 2013

in anthropology, books + libraries, monkeys (also: apes), wild kingdom

As a child, I ran a bit hot and cold on the whole Curious George issue. I loved him when I was 5 and devoured all the books in short order (I was a precocious reader). In the first grade, much to the chagrin of our school librarian, I found the situation of a monkey in an urban environment problematic. Which was odd considering I lived in a weird place that – in addition to the wide-range of eccentrics, roadside attractions, and sanctuaries, was the winter home of the circus – and didn’t give much thought to the variety of exotic animals all over town.

In the present, discussions erupt now and again in the MeanLouise Lair about whether George is a monkey or an ape. Sometimes other people are involved in these debates, other times I’m just talking to myself.

I think we can retire the subject once and for all because bioanthropology blogging heart-throb Kristina Killgrove has written a truly fab post on her blog, Powered by Osteons, that explores the question, “Is Curious George a Monkey or an Ape?” in fascinating detail.

I bet the Fabulous Miss P. and Heather will both find the post interesting, if not for the science than for the cultural context of those books.

precious. precocious. one of those. my proofreader failed me today ;-)

{ 2 comments }

Pete June 26, 2013 at 10:41 am

I enjoyed the historical perspective of the argument but the problem I have is that we still call him a monkey. He’s not. She pokes at Linnaeus for lumping bats in with other primates. That classification has changed and so too should our understanding and labeling of monkeys and apes.

meanlouise June 29, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Did you leave this comment on her post? You should if you didn’t.

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