Five months before going into labor with her first child, Shannon Brinwall finished reading the bestselling pregnancy guide What To Expect When You’re Expecting. And she thought it had prepared her for everything.
But when the doctor delivering her baby held up a four-pound chimpanzee covered in wet, brown fur with the exception of a white tuft on its rump, Brinwall was dumbstruck.
“There was nothing in the book about giving birth to a little ape,” she said over coffee at her South Bloomfield, Ohio, house while the infant chimp napped on a bed of leaves and twigs in the backyard. “My husband and I don’t know what to do now. We’ve called 20 pediatricians and none of them will see us; they tell us to call Jane Goodall or any qualified wildlife specialist.”
The rare birth of a chimpanzee to a human mother, troubling as it is for the Brinwalls, has raised concerns of a different kind among scientists worldwide. They fear this chimp is an early indicator of what biologists call “rapid evolutionary regression,” a process by which an entire population — usually that of a nation-state — reverts to a more primitive state of development within 5 to 10 years.
“I think the evidence for regression in the U.S. is rather compelling,” said Marsha Kinzer-Waltham, a professor of computational genetics at the London Night School and co-author of the paper Dire Devolution in America, as well as sole author of the award-winning Op-Ed piece Knuckle-Walking in the Texas Legislature. “You’ve got a woman giving birth to an arboreal primate. You’ve got Pleistocene politicians invoking their Sky God and then calling for more guns and spears. You’ve got virtually a whole population communicating in a text-messaging language that seems limited to hooting and grunting, with smiley faces for punctuation. No question, this is what devolution looks like.”
Research into the cause of American evolutionary regression is focused on potential damage to the brain from exposure to pesticides, BPA (a chemical found in many plastics), and the Kardashians (a family found in most magazines and televisions).