Portraits of apes

Apeeeee Photographer James Mollison took portraits of more than 50 apes. "I decided against photographing in zoos or using ‘animal actors’ but traveled to Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia to meet orphans of the bush meat trade and live pet trade," he said. Mollison compiled the series, titled James and Other Apes, into a 2004 book with the same name. (via Accidental Mysteries)


      1.  No kidding! Especially the gorillas.

        I wonder how much of it is that we are so closely related that we are attuned to the kinds of differences.

        Granted, less social animals don’t need to be so easily recognizable, and many animals like dogs probably do it more by scent. But penguins, among other social birds, seem to be able to immediately recognize each other, and birds are as visually dominant as primates. I wonder if we all look as much the same to them as they look to us.

        1. But the distinctions we make in detecting emotional responses are not necessarily of significance for them. How do we know that they see each other as we see them? Hard not to anthropomorphize…

          1.  I meant simply identifying individuals, and nothing beyond that. But inferring emotions is also an interesting question.

        2. I’d imagine this reaction happens because their faces are arranged so similarly to ours and seem to have the same capability of the same expressions. So yes, because they are related to us :)

          But also because of familiarity. Having worked with dogs for a while, I can instantly tell them apart easily, and also understand their expressions (which is mostly body language in dogs).

    1.  “To endow animals with human emotions has long been a scientific taboo. But if we do not, we risk missing something fundamental, about both animals and us.” ~ Frans de Waal
      It might be argued they are our genetic cousins; certainly worthy of our consideration and protection. 

    2.  It always struck me that if only the great apes had white sclera (the ‘whites of eye’ were white) then folks would be less able to deny the close connection.  but i’m probably being too optimistic; sure seems obvious …to me.  (i’ve got one uncle that looks less human than some of those photos)

    3. i think anthropomorphizing is ok. for me, there’s a difference between projecting a personality onto an animal and turning it into an extension of yourself and acknowledging that apes (or whatever animal) feel pain, they have families, social order, etc.

    4. The word  “anthropomorphise” grants far too much value to the uniqueness of our experiences and behaviours. We’re animals and act like it.

      1. I agree – it’s the act of anthropomorphising that overstates our uniqueness.  Applying a human frame to these facial expressions won’t work, but it’s really hard to see “familiar” expressions and not assume “he’s a bit glum/angry/miffed”.

        1. There’s a few expressions which have different meanings though – we tend not to rip each other’s faces off if we are smiled at.

    5. Go for it.  Anthropomorphize. It’s safe to. 
      Apes are Simians (higher primates) or Old World anthropoid mammals from the superfamily Hominoidea. 
      Like us. 
      So why wouldn’t we?

  1. It’s the second from the top right who nicked my wallet in Soho last night, I’m sure.  And the bottom right is definitely a cheerful chappy teenager, such an innocent look. (edit: I don’t know my top from the bottom and left from right)

  2. I would be very curious to see if what I assume about their personality from their expression matches with their actions. 

  3. It would be interesting to see how closely their faces align with the Marquardt Beauty Mask, and if the proportions of the Golden Mean had any part in how and why the evolutionary branches lead to where they are.

  4. ‘orphans of the bush meat trade and live pet trade’

    ugh. absolutely disgusting.

    1. orphans of the bush meat trade and live pet trade

      In before, “The obama meat trade is no better!!!”

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