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2007: An innovation odyssey

February 28, 2007, 5:35 AM

Kubrick_4 Do you ever see corporations doing innovative things they shouldn't, theoretically, be doing? Usually, it starts with an employee in the front ranks, changing the way he or she interacts with customers. From there, the practice can spread throughout the organization. Customers and partners immediately wonder if it's just some kind of glitch - or whether it's one of those serendipitous changes that will soon become hard-wired into the company's DNA.

Anyway, the same types of things happen in nature all the time. The Associated Press, for example, recently carried a tale of chimpanzees that use spears to hunt small animals -- something they simply aren't supposed to be doing:

"Researchers have witnessed a chimpanzee skewering a lemur-like creature for supper, but it's unclear whether the spectacle was a bit of luck or an indication that chimps have a more advanced ability to hunt than was thought. A team led by Iowa State University anthropology professor Jill Pruetz witnessed the spearing of a bushbaby in Fongoli, Senegal, during an observation of chimpanzees from March 2005 to July 2006.

In a study being released in the online version of the journal Current Biology, Pruetz documents 22 cases of chimps using spear-like tools to hunt bushbabies — a small primate that lives in hollow branches or tree trunks. "It's not uncommon to have chimps use tools. But to use them in the context of hunting" is nearly unheard of, she said."

Anyway, this story of the chimpanzees who hunt reminds me of the opening scenes of Stanley Kubrick's movie "2001: A Space Odyssey," in which a giant ape-like creature at the Dawn of Man discovers that the giant bones of the woolly mammoth can become a hunting instrument. As Kubrick hints, it's only one small step from using a bone as a hunting instrument to becoming an evolutionarily-advanced species capable of exploring the cosmos.

[image: Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey"]

 

2007: An innovation odyssey

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