A still-born baby would not be news. Unless the baby is a dead lamb with a human-like face. Evolution throws up such surprises. How we react to them also shows how we perceive our evolvement when confronted with other forms.
Erhan Elibol, a vet, had to perform a caesarean on a sheep in a Turkish village in 2010. He said:
- “I’ve seen mutations with cows and sheep before. I’ve seen a one-eyed calf, a two-headed calf, a five-legged calf. But when I saw this youngster I could not believe my eyes.”
The lamb’s head had human features on – the eyes, the nose and the mouth – only the ears were those of a sheep.
While the reports suggest that the fodder of the mother had abundant vitamin A, the subtext is the possibility of beast and human cohabitation. A similar example mentioned a goat from Zimbabwe. It managed to live for many hours. The villagers were so afraid, they killed it.
The governor of the province had said:
- "This incident is very shocking. It is my first time to see such an evil thing. It is really embarrassing. The head belongs to a man while the body is that of a goat. This is evident that an adult human being was responsible. Evil powers caused this person to lose self control. We often hear cases of human beings who commit bestiality but this is the first time for such an act to produce a product with human features.”
A similar fate, or at least ridicule, is meted out to children with dominant animal features.
Scientific Darwinian explanation would merely allude to the possibility of an ‘antecedent’ strain embedded in the human body and, perhaps, mind. We live in fairly close communion with what we term ‘domesticated’ creatures, much as we refer to human – unfortunately more often women – in such a manner to suggest a comfort with the hearth than with the caveman skills of slaying lions.
Have religious mores made the human less animal? How would then one explain “unnatural sex”, which mimics to an extent animal behaviour when in heat? Humans do not have a period of being in heat. Should one therefore assume that evolution has empowered the homosapien to continue with perpetual animalistic behaviour, and the true test is the amount of value-laden acts that manage to supercede pleasure? However, experiencing pleasure is a human boon; animals do not feel it, except perhaps as relief, much as scratching an itch.
When we read about instances of humans and animals, the preference seems to be for what might broadly be the canine and bovine family. There is rarely an instance of sex with simians, who are closest to us. Is there a ‘morality’ embedded in unnaturalism, where this would be deemed as incest?
Also, would we be able to stretch attraction to pets where the sexual act might never occur but the affection is a compensatory aspect, and indeed the nuzzling, caressing, licking are not too far from human foreplay? These do not worry us, or even cross our minds, because there is a clear demarcation in our ethical paradigm. Bestiality is when the lines blur. A human having intercourse with an animal is termed bestial. We refuse to see it from the animal perspective. Surely, we could not term it ‘humanistic’. And we do not even care much about it. That probably explains how eveolved we are, for we can take control of our acts and how we choose to see them, as also the moral dimension we give it.
“Evil powers” are blamed. Men have used such evil powers against other humans too. In fact, in the animal kingdom, there appears to be more equality in sexual encounters. There may not be long-term relationships, but the act itself is not confined to the male prerogative to ‘take’. In the human context, women who are adventurous may be exciting, but they are termed “wild” by their partners too. Even a progressive man would not fail to notice the uninhibited passion. It is, therefore, seen as a departure from what is common human conduct.
Recently, a 750-year-old stone tablet was discovered in Vasai, a far suburb of Mumbai, that suggests a woman had copulated with a donkey.
The Times of India report quotes historian Shridatta Raut, of Kille Vasai Mohim, who chanced upon the tablet:
- “The stone dates back to the era of the Shilahara kings, who ruled Vasai around 1,000 years ago. It bears a few lines in Sanskrit that we are trying to decipher. Years of exposure to the elements and accumulated dirt have blurred the inscription, but we have read a series of ‘Shri Shri Shri Shri’, which shows that the tablet must have been commissioned by a senior courtier or perhaps a Brahmin. The stone bears an image of a donkey copulating with a human female, perhaps threatening transgressors that a similar fate would befall their women should their menfolk ignore the warning.”
This suggests that not only did humans a few centuries ago use women for procreation, but were not averse to the idea of bestiality as punishment. The female as wartime booty had become a fairly common occurrence. This ‘tradition’ continues. What is deemed as repugnant has been legitimised as machismo. For the male, woman is property is used to protect other property.
Is it much different from animals marking their territory?
© Farzana Versey