Thursday, March 25, 2010

That S*** is Bananas


About 5-8 million years ago, us humans split from a common ancestor that we shared with modern apes (creationists please read that sentence as "we arrived here all at once 6000 years ago" and stop reading). We gained many benefits during our evolution after the split including the ability to walk upright and form complex language and abstract thought. We also lost some things along the way like crazy monkey strength (chimps are 5-8 times stronger than a full grown man), the hair off our backs (for most of us at least) and the ability to properly peel a banana.



Think about how us modern homo sapiens go about eating a banana. We grab a banana and attempt to break the stem off at the top so we can get a good peel going. How do we do this? By jamming our thumb nail into the base of the stem in an attempt to split the peel. Of course this is easier said than done and we usually struggle with the split leading to a mushy top of our banana. Being the evolved problem solvers that we are we might use our developed cerebral cortex to realize we can use one of our tools (usually a knife). This usually solves the problem of the mushy tip. But, what if we unsuccessful with the thumb nail method and out of reach of our tools? Many of us may revert to our animal instincts, we are hungry after all, and that peel is standing between us and a snack. Have you ever bitten the banana peel to get it started? It taste horrible.

So why do us humans seem to often struggle with such a seemingly easy task? As it turns out, we are doing it completely wrong. Over the years we have over analyzed the process and forgotten the elegant solution devised by our ancestors and still used by our ape cousins today.

Now this is going to require a paradigm shift for many of you.

Apes and monkeys eat bananas upside down, as defined by us humans. However, what we consider the top of the banana is really the bottom. On the tree, bananas grow away from the stem towards the sky, take a look at the visual evidence.




You may ask "well then how does a monkey peel a banana with out the leverage provided by the stem?"

The answer is simple, monkeys and apes pinch the top of the banana. The pressure from the pinch causes a tear in the (real)top of the banana which easily starts the peel.  Here is an actual gorilla peeling a banana, take note of her technique, though I don't recommend eating the peel.

Go ahead, try it. It feels totally wrong the first time you do it. It's going against everything you know and have been taught your whole life. Its like finding out the tooth fairy is just the boogie man in a dress. Once you get over the initial shock, you will soon fall in love with the forgotten technique. Don't do it in public the first time, you will get weird looks and feel self conscious as you try your initial pinch. Introduce the technique to your friends and coworkers gradually after you have practiced sufficiently. Monkey-style banana peeling may be a tiny evolutionary step for us humans, but its one worth taking.

An added bonus to this method is that the stem, which is now correctly at the bottom, acts as a nice little handle as you eat your banana.

Though apes and humans may have drifted apart over the millennia, we still share the banana as a common point of interest. Use the monkey-style banana peel as a way to connect with your roots.

Now that S*** is Bananas.
 **skip to 2:30

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