Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Anthropology and Melina

My daughter, Melina, has a plush multicolored snake. Several days ago, Melina pulled it out of her toy box and held it up, pointing it at her mom, and began making a hissing noise and pretending to make it strike at her mom. She had a big grin on her face, clearly delighted that she was "scaring" her mom with the snake.

The thing is, Melina has never seen a live snake, let alone seen one do this, and we have never played with her plush snake this way with her. In fact, it was in the toy box, unseen, since we bought it a few months ago. So how did Melina know that it would/might scare her mom? Or that she should make it strike to make it scary? We know that primates have a natural fear of eagles, large cats, and snakes -- but even if she was tapping into this instinct, this seems pretty specific. Could our instincts be that incredibly specific? I mean, this is a pretty innate "idea."
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