Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Theory of Relativity

May 25, 2012

With the fine weather today, the crew was able to prepare for an early start. The short journey from base camp to the observation site was quick and largely uneventful. We arrived at about 11:30am, leaving just enough time to get settled in before the daily rush of dinnertime activity began. As is usual for this site, the smell was overpowering - a small olfactory price to pay to be able to witness such a hotbed of fascinating interactions for this species within its natural environment.

For reasons unknown, the observation site was particularly active today: approximately fifteen juvenile males and four juvenile females were observed. I was unable to ascertain the number of adults present, as most of them remained hidden out of sight (and, presumably, earshot - my word, was it loud!). It seems laughable to presume they could be so like us, but perhaps they needed a break from the kids - don't we all sometimes!

Thanks to these large numbers being present, we were able to make great strides in understanding these unusual creatures. Several distinct parenting styles became apparent during the course of today's observation; so distinct, in fact, that I was struck by the possibility that we may in fact be witnessing the interaction between several subspecies. How they came to develop remains unclear - one can only assume some geographic or social separation may have taken place in the past - and how they came to be reunited in this single place at lunchtime is another mystery, but I wish to describe here my preliminary observations and thoughts to begin the scientific discourse:

The first subspecies I've tenderly dubbed Homo sapiens ssp. helicopterus for their predilection toward mercilessly hovering over their offspring, constantly reprimanding, correcting and preening them, to the apparent chagrin of the young themselves. They were certainly the tidiest-looking and least injury-prone bunch, but they didn't seem to be having much fun or really socializing with the other juveniles. Conversely, a good number of the juveniles had no interaction whatsoever with an adult during the entire one to two-hour timeframe; these I've called H. absenteeus. There was a great deal of pushing, dog-piling, chasing, leaping and climbing amongst the unsupervised juveniles, all accompanied by exuberant screaming and laughter, and - not occasionally - tears. These youngsters also appeared most likely to be leaking snot, possibly hinting at physical rather than simply behavioural differences between the subspecies? Certainly a titillating prospect that warrants further study.

Perhaps it is only my personal perspective creeping into these observations, much akin to the way in which everyone driving slower than oneself is an idiot and everyone driving faster is a maniac, but the final prospective subspecies, H. moderatus, I hold dearest to my heart for their middle-of-the-spectrum approach. These juveniles had little apparent snot and were relatively well-behaved while still seeming to enjoy the company of others - in turn, the parents seemed to be enjoying their mealtime break, yet occasionally still appeared from the periphery of the observation area to correct unsanitary or unsafe behaviours. 

Regardless of whether these speculations and musings are later deemed to be true, I continue to be fascinated by these interesting and diverse creatures. My life's work in observing and analyzing them remains thrilling; I learn something new every day.

We will return to the Burger King play area observation site again in future, and perhaps venture further afield to the McDonald's PlayPlace site in the following weeks; weather permitting, we will also continue our work in the neighbourhood parks and playgrounds.

Good night.

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