The campaign to save the whales desperately needed to tell us how similar we were, whales and us. In the words of cowboy biologists: Humans are not hairy enough. Not hairy enough to have been on land, not all along. They cite whales against other possible ancestry.

A chimpanzee's skin is old from birth; without a substantial web of collagen gripping the skin from underneath, it does not spring back. A touch of their skin is osteoporetic: boney, but slightly soft. Because primate fat deposits sit slightly nearer to the skeletel cage, under a tougher dermis with dense hair follicles, the biologists claim that our resilent, young skin cannot come from monkeys. Small puffs of air, downdrafts from the high peaks of goosebumps, insulate by settling in the troughs between hairs. Their kind of warmth lives in an empty layer. Touching them is like touching a ghost, twice over: not even a shadow of one's former self.

In the absence of the right sort of fat network, a monkey's skin may be separated from a whale's. Just look at it, they say.

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