Compass

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Compass

(Photo: George / Flickr)

The first impulse is to laugh. The orangutan, with its close-set eyes, stubbed nose and wry smirk, reminds us of someone we think isn’t quite as sharp as we are. Like humans, he not only has four fingers and an opposable thumb, but teeth very much like ours. He also has a family: wife, children, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. We have long heard that our closest living relatives are chimpanzees, but some controversial research suggests that the chap you see up there with the Brazilian Blowout shares more than just DNA with you.

Anthropomorphization isn’t just hard to spell; we do a disservice to animals and ourselves when we try to put our thoughts into their heads. However, as we look back at that penetrating stare it impossible not to ask: “What is he thinking?"

Photograph by George in Tampa, Fla.

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