And now… pay attention!
Humans, or human beings, are bipedal primates belonging to the mammalian species Homo sapiens (Latin: “wise man” or “knowing man”) in the family Hominidae (the great apes). –
Most of the signals of the non-verbal communication are not influenced by culture or/and education. They are inborn gestures, as common for the human race as they are for the primates.
Like it or not, we are all God’s children so we share common traits. This is not so hard to believe if you are a Darwinist. It might be however hard to believe if you think we are the only intelligent species on Earth and in the Universe for that matter. For your information the Bible doesn’t say so. Now try to keep an open mind and quit on being a self centered entity. The Universe doesn’t revolve around Terra after all.
Back to the monkey business.
The minute you shake your head to signal disagreement (you know, that pissed off movement from right to left or left to right) you do display some inborn body language signals. Some say that the movement is not inborn, but has its origins to “breastfeeding.” No matter how you look at it, the same movement is encountered at apes and primates in general too.
And when you smile with that beautiful smile that shows your heart and joy, you human being, show submission. You can come up with thousands of quotes and ideas about the poetry of a beautiful open smile, the truth is that smiling has its origins in the primitive animal past.
The primates smile to show submission. For most of the other animals the smile is a threat gesture. You don’t smile to threat, do you? So smiling is submission: to a feeling, a person, an idea or an ideal. And you can argue till the end of time, but the smile shows acceptance – a non-threatening state of being.
Submission is probably the wrong term – I cannot find anything better due to obvious language and cultural barriers – but evident enough to prove a point. And think about it: the person you love sends you a love message. What is your first reaction? Light in your eyes and a smile that says “you are the one.” Yes, you let yourself go. That is submission, defined as the acceptance of power from another person usually accompanied by increasing understanding.
Now what about that “studied” smile? The one displayed to “please?” Same story. When exactly do you display a “fake smile?” Let me tell you: when you meet someone new, at an interview for a job or for anything else, or in any similar/related circumstances. You smile to say “I come in peace.”
Smiling is not smirking. I said “pay attention!” A smirk is a threatening gesture and evokes insolence and offensive smugness. It’s nothing wrong to be satisfied of who you are, but the smirk will transform this self satisfaction into an offense towards the ones it is addressed at.
Baring the teeth might look like a smile, but we all know that that’s bad news! Accompanied by nostril flaring this is the clearest signal that trouble is on the way. You don’t want to mess up with a human who sneers and certainly you don’t want to be around a gorilla doing the same thing! When animals sneer they practically warn the attacker that they will eventually use their teeth to attack or defend. A human is probably not aware of the origin of the sneer, but the threatening pose is there. No doubts about it!
Screaming, sadness, smiling, anger…
…you see, these are not feelings exclusive to humans. They are primary traits we share with our animal ancestors. They are also the non-verbal signs which are the easiest to read.
Three monkeys sat on a coconut tree,
Discussing things as they’re said to be.
Said one to the other,
“Now listen you two,
There’s a certain rumor
That can’t be true …
That man descended from our noble race.
The very idea is sure to disgrace.”
“No monkey ever deserted his wife,
Starved her babies and ruined her life.
And you’ve never known another monk,
To leave her babies with others to bunk,
Or pass them on from one to another.”
“And another thing you will never see …
Is a monk build a fence around a coconut tree;
And let the coconuts go to waste,
Forbidding all the other monks to taste.”
“Why, if I put a fence around this tree,
Starvation would force you to steal from me.”
“And here’s something else a monk won’t do …
Go out at night and get on a stew;
Or use a gun or club or knife,
To take some other monkey’s life.”
“Yes, man descended … ornery cuss,
But, brother, … he didn’t descend from us!
Mihaela Lica says
Brilliant, MA! Purely brilliant. Thank you so much for publishing it here.
Oh you’re welcome, Mig. I’ve always enjoyed the poem and its significance. Moreover, since this post is about monkeys, I just had to toss it in for good measure. The thought came quickly.
I really enjoyed the post, Mig. It got stumbled shortly thereafter I tossed the poem into the comment. Glad you enjoyed it. I thought afterwards that maybe I shouldn’t have left it without at least saying something about it.
Happy New Year, Cookie!
Great associations! But as you can see, the monkeys don’t agree 😉
Mihaela Lica says
Thank you, for the stumble MA! As for the poem – simply great. There are things we fail to say and you completed my entry with the poem. What a great sign of respect. Happy New Year to you too and thank you for being my friend!
Mihaela Lica says
Hi Simonne! Long time no see! I am so happy you are still “watching” the body language series.
Awww, shucks, Mig. I was only doing what any primate would do. As you may know, we have a tendency to groom one another publicly whenever we’re fond of the other primate.
Just ask Cheetah from the Tarzan series. Btw, he’s doing well in Palm Springs, CA. He’s retired now and is an established artisan by his in-ground pool. According to my online friend, Palm Springs Savant, Rick Rockhill. I used to live in the low desert area in California and know Palm Springs very well, therefore he and I have a bit in common. Visiting with him and the memories he stirs in me is just as good as traveling back in time.
Of course, we are not the only intelligent species on earth but we are the most intelligent. I’m sure you’ll agree to that. Great comparisons by the way.
Jason Pearson says
I find your observations very interesting. I am actually a Christian and do not beleive in evolution. But, I think what you are writing about can be explained by a common God creating all primates (including humans). Also, on a more personal note, I breastfeed my son and from birth he has let me know he was done eating by shaking his head side to side.
Dwight Shrute says
I never smile if I can help it. Showing ones teeth is a submission signal in primates. When someone smiles at me, all I see is a chimpanzee begging for its life.
Mr. Lucas Brice says
In your post, you said:
“They are inborn gestures, as common for the human race as they are for the primates.”
But you start out correctly stating that humans are primates, so you should have said:
“They are inborn gestures, as common for the human race as they are for the *other* primates.”
The way it stands, you’ve differentiated humans from primates.