Monkey Business

Lynda in Gibraltar with a Barbary Ape tugging at her hair
A small monkey checking for signs of grey hair on a dominant female

It is fairly common knowledge that Kingpins in gorilla clans are called a Silverback.

These large males were, to my knowledge, silver in colour because of their age, because just like humans they go grey.  However, a fact I discovered recently was that there can only be one Silverback in each gorilla clan.

If a new gorilla asserted itself on the group and successfully challenged the dominant male for the role then the newly demoted Silverback will revert back to being a black-back – He would loose the silver.

I discussed this with the misses and we had wondered why.

This was a few weeks ago I had accepted that I couldn’t work out why and how this occurred.  However it now appears that my other half had been mulling over this for some time.

Today she announced with great pride, as if discovering the cure for cancer, that this was in fact due to the gorilla realising it’s dominance which promoted change.  A physiological hormonal reaction.

If I am being honest I hadn’t realised this in such clarity but I had given up considering the whys and wherefores because I realised that I wouldn’t be able to answer the reasons on a chemical scale.

But her clarity did make me think that if gorillas can hormonally change their hair colour from silver to black then we as humans, being 99.9% similar on a biological level should be able to do the same.  Or at least we should be able to artificially produce and use the same hormone.

Have we in our grasp the cure for age hair greying?

All we need to do is collect a hair from a Silverback and from a newly demoted ex-Silverback and make a DNA test for the difference.

All this supposes we can find someone brave enough to pluck a single hair off the back of (1) A dominant male gorilla who thinks he is the Lord of all beings and (2) A newly demoted gorilla who a few days ago thought he was the Lord of all beings and is now one very miffed monkey.

I deigned to suggest that I wouldn’t be keen to carry out this next stage of discovery and got accused of being a complete lightweight.

Sometimes it really is hard being a superhero.  The slightest crack in the armour and there are accusations of failure.  I failed to be fully heroic over quite an insignificant matter and was accused of being a big girl’s blouse.

My reaction? Typical Vince.

I likened the thought of being a blouse on a large girl as a positive thing.

But now she’s not talking to me.

And I have to be careful, I’ve noticed she’s going grey!

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog and Ideas sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 19 Jun 2018
First Published: Version 2.03 on 7 Jul 2006

The photo is of the author’s wife, Lynda, interacting with a native, wild Barbary Ape in Gibraltar