Tuesday, November 1

The Tooth Fairy

Good, here is the post, left intact on my other computer. I said I would keep this update at least once a week. Once a month, however shameful that rate may be, is something I can stick to. So now I've technically got October and November covered. But it doesn't help matters that there hasn't been a great deal of interesting news coming out of the monkeyworld, either, so I can't even write half-strength posts about that. Regardless, here is an entry that is quite overdue.
I eat you
Life as a male baboon is short and brutish, as it is for so many males in the wild. And females, when you often think about it. But usually not as short.

The bottom line is that males fight a lot, and when they fight, almost all of the damage they do to one another is with their massive fangs. But teeth don't last forever, just like male rank in the troop never lasts. After years of raking each others' flesh and bones with their canines, not to mention the added wear from, you know, eating, the canines will be lost.

Usually it doesn't happen all at once. I haven't had a chance to witness this process much, but usually the tip ends up broken, and then the main shaft will break off, and finally the entire tooth will fall out.
This isn't a great picture, but it is an amusing one to be sure, and as informative as we need. I unfortunately do not have any pictures from my own baboons because no one I know has a quality camera and the particular attention or desire to snap shots of the old males' canine-less maws. However, the above picture of a gelada serves the purpose well enough. He's mid yawn in this picture, and you can't see his remaining teeth yet, but you can already easily tell that they're missing. Look at how the skin stretches, and is pulled inward; if there were teeth there, the skin would be a comparatively flat surface, but without the large canines, the skin is pulled into the empty space to lessen the tension as the monkey yawns.

Among the troops, there are many old males who look like this. Old Chester and Betrand are missing all of their canines, and Mortimer is almost there. I suppose Morty must be a bit younger than I initially thought, since a chipped, yellowed, but intact lower canine remains in his mouth. None of these baboons will ever be on the top of the pile ever again, but they're still extremely dangerous, and have more than enough strength to take on any baboon female out there.

Fights aren't the only thing that ends the lives of monkey teeth. I know a few middle-aged rhesus macaques who've barely faught a day in their lives, but some of them are missing canines as well. Furthermore, there is a troop of baboons further down on the cape which roams near a bread factory. They frequently raid said factory, and the result is extremely bad baboon teeth, thanks to the large amounts of processed carbohydrate in the bread.

I mention the topic of teeth because recently, Aaron came out of a routine fight, and one of his upper canines was missing. Not too long ago, I noticed that Aaron's teeth were not as bright and shiny as we had previously thought. They were not visibly marred, but quite yellow. Further reason to believe that while Aaron is still a strong baboon in his prime, he is not as young an we once thought.

Rather than being on the upswing in terms of strength, Aaron has begun his decline, which is a scary prospect for a male baboon. There will be many more challenges to Aaron's authority, and the end of his reign is now in sight.

On that note, Happy Solemnity of All Saints.

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