The old Sasquatch thought deeply on the question his granddaughter had asked.
He felt the answer stir deep in his ancestral memories.
She was slow in learning how to access the genetic past inherent in his kind… perhaps it was the tiny pieces of the Hairless Ones that flowed through most of his kind flowed stronger in her blood?
She was always so curious… always asking questions she should be able to answer herself? He found himself studying her forehead above her dark, questioning eyes. Her skull did resemble that of the Hairless Ones… a little. It seemed more prominent in the front, while lacking in volume at the back where the ancestral memories dwelt?
He looked into her eyes and shared the memories he felt coming forth…
…memories of the Hairless Ones from long long ago…
… like all of his kind since those early days in the ancient past, those who would become known as the Hairless Ones lived near water. But not near the rivers, lakes and creeks of the mountains and plains.
The Hairless Ones lived near the sea, wading through the waves and tides to gather food rich in fats that nourished their brains. As a result, over time they grew more cunning even than their hairy brothers of the forests, fashioning methods to gather food in greater and greater quantities.
They were aided by their strange hands… like their inland brothers they had grasping thumbs, but unlike their brothers their thumbs were more opposable, better suited for not only holding rocks and sticks, but able to manipulate sticks, bones and rocks in fine, intricate ways, over time improving the tools they were so fond of.
All of the Clans used tools, but simple rocks and sticks that could be quickly gathered and tossed aside when it’s purpose was fulfilled, but not the Hairless Ones. They spent so much time on their tools they kept them, carrying them everywhere they went. Indeed even fought over them, which greatly puzzled any hairy watcher from the woods.
Also unlike their forest-dwelling brethren, the Hairless Ones made use of the day, taking advantage of the bright light to dive deep for food rich in nutrients, hunting at night was not only useless to them but was dangerous in the waters of the sea. In the water hair dragged and slowed you down, so over time they lost much of the long, thick hair of their forested cousins, earning their name amongst the Clans as the Hairless Ones. Only on the tops of their heads did they retain any of noticeable length, as protection against the burning sun while they waded and swam amongst the rocks of their salty, watery world
While the inland Clans often met, intermingled, or fought for territory under the light of the passing moons, the Hairless Ones and their daytime activities were ignored. Occasionally a hairy brother would fossick on their beaches, and come across the simple shelters they built to ward off the cold night air. Ignored, he would pass on about his business in the night, often even resisting the temptation to take the drying fish that were always hanging in the trees and on the rocks around their little shelters.
Because the Hairless Ones did their foraging in the bright light of day, rarely did they cross paths with their hairy cousins. As such they were left alone to their obsession with shaping and perfecting their tools and immediate environment.
As the ages passed they built larger and more permanent structures using better and tools… even learning to use fire itself as a tool.
Sadly they were not content with their seaside existence and slowly began advancing into the forests, following the very same rivers and streams the Clans used as pathways far from their salty world.
Mostly, due to their daytime activity, they were tolerated. As long as they left the cool nights to the Clans to hunt and forage.
The ever-expanding Hairless Ones, carrying their precious tools with them, moved deeper and deeper into the forests and mountains of the Clans, including their favourite tool, fire.
The use of this tool changed the dynamics. With their oily skin and long hair the Hairy Clans greatly feared the flames. And wondered at the Hairless Ones and their fascination with it. Even when occasionally their shelters would burn to the ground, occupants and all, their obsession would not allow them to give up its use.
Purposely lighting fires to clear the wilds and drive prey into their traps, entire forests became grasslands, transforming the habitats of many of the Hairy Clans forever. But the new savannahs seemed to favour the Hairless Ones, who could now use their tools to run down even large game in the heat of the day. Their hair-free bodies allowed them to sweat, cooling their bodies so they could run in the burning sun all day, even the fastest deer had no chance against their relentless pursuit.
As their shelters grew into villages and towns far from the sea their love of their origins stayed with them so they often brought their seasides with them, constructing pools of water in which to relax far from the beaches of their birth.
Most of the Hairy Clans moved away, retreating as the Hairless Ones advanced. Occasionally a troop would stand their ground, trying to defend territory from their smaller foes. But despite the advantage in size and strength, the tools and weapons of their Hairless cousins would inevitably turn the tide. And they bred so fast, their numbers increasing at two, three, even four times the speed of the Clans.
Not all encounters resulted in conflict… sometimes they traded their beloved tools and the game they caught with the Hairy Clans … some even found love.
But as the ages passed most of the Hairy Clans learnt to avoid their diurnal cousins, retreating into the mountains and long nights of the frozen north. Eventually the Hairless Ones seemed to forget their hairy, nocturnal brethren ever existed, making it possible for the Clans to sneak back to covertly coexist in the neighbouring forests under cover of the night. They made sure to stay hidden, watching the strange behaviours of the Hairless Ones from the shelter of the shadows under the trees.
The Old Male leant back. His granddaughter’s eyes were wide. He wondered if she had absorbed the answer and the inherent lesson of caution? Or if her strange brain had instead only become more curious? She was so much harder to read than the other members of his troop. In his own head, the memories of many conflicts… from thousands of generations of his line… mixed and flowed like a turbulent river. Images of pain and suffering… but also a few of love… and curiosity. His granddaughter was intensely curious, uncomfortably so, even for he.
He hoped it would not get her into trouble.
The Sea Apes (or Why We Are Different)
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