Images via the BBC video screengrab
You know that old thought experiment dealing with giving monkeys typewriters and seeing they could come up with Shakespeare? Well, chimpanzees may not be likely to create the work of England's most famous playwright, but it turns out they can make a hell of a movie. Naturalists in Britain gave chimps "monkey-proof" camera equipment and let them run wild with it--and they ended up shooting a movie. That film has now been edited and will be airing on the BBC this week--the trailer's after the jump.While it seems more like a premise for a bad reality TV show that a scientific study, it turns out it's precisely that--primatologists outfitted the chimps with cameras as part of their research into how chimpanzees perceive the world and one another, according to the BBC.
The idea for a chimp-made movie was first dreamed up by the primatologist Ms Betsy Herrelko, who set about introducing 11 chimps to video technology over the course of a year and a half.
The BBC explains what happened next:
Despite the fact that the chimps had never taken part in a research project before, they soon displayed an interest in film-making. Ms Herrelko set the chimps two challenges. The first was to teach the chimps how to use a touchscreen to select different videos. By doing so, Ms Herrelko could investigate which types of images chimps prefer to watch. The second challenge was to give the apes a "Chimpcam", a recording camera housed in a chimp-proof box.
Despite some early troubles with two males vying to be the alpha, the chimps eventually learned how to operate the touchscreen and were able to choose which videos they watched. After this was mastered, the group of chimps were given the 'Chimpcam.' And that, of course, is the fun part:
Gradually, the chimps started playing with the Chimpcam, carrying it around the enclosure. The chimps soon became interested in the camera view screen on the Chimpcam box, watching what happened as they moved the Chimpcam around filming new images.The chimps proceeded to move the camera around their enclosure, filming and watching themselves on the device.
And if you live in the UK, or you have the BBC on satellite, you can watch the movie they ended up shooting--it airs this Wednesday at 8 pm GMT. And it's probably a lot better than just about everything else on TV.