Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
A girl was found living among monkeys in an Indian forest (washingtonpost.com)
365 points by mrb on Apr 7, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 159 comments

The story is too good. The girl, the monkeys defending her, the policeman ... all Disney-level stuff but where are the non-disney facts? A real story always has dark sides. This one is too perfect. I'm not saying that it is all fake, rather that I don't think we are getting the entire story. I wouldn't be surprised if we eventually learn that this girl was only living with the monkeys for a very short while, that her issues are more long-standing. Perhaps the truth is that she was a disabled girl found amongst monkeys and the story has been elaborated from those simple facts.

>>> "She behaves like an ape and screams loudly if doctors try to reach out to her."

Like an ape or like a monkey? She was raised by monkeys but acts like an ape? A lay person perhaps wouldn't know the difference but by now someone with knowledge would be on site. I have been around several disabled children. The screaming and fear of being looked at or touched is not uncommon. No mention of how she reacts to being clothed? I'm no expert on feral children but I would expect that after eight years of being naked one would not be happy about clothing and that would deserve some mention ... unless of course clothing is nothing new to her.

I want to see her feet, specifically her toes. If she really hasn't ever worn shoes then her toes will show it.


"When the girl arrived at the hospital, she had wounds all over her body."

"“These aren’t Jungle Book stories, they’re often harrowing cases of neglect and abuse...”

If you read the entire article, it's clear that this isn't a fairytale story. However, the fact that Ssebunya was abandoned by his human family and 'adopted' by a primate family gives me even more affection for the animal kingdom over the human kingdom. It's just as true, but at least there's heart at the core.

>gives me even more affection for the animal kingdom over the human kingdom

Because humans never adopt animals? Or is it because animals never abandon their young?

Or kill the cubs of competing males.

That poor hippo

Many, many animals do.

I've read several articles on this. I wouldn't comment otherwise. I'd be more ready to take everything at face value had not several articles, from Indian outlets nearer to the source, drawn direct comparisons between this story and the jungle book fairytale. See the link to the NewIndianExpress article in the OP.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/apr/06/ jungle-book-redux -as-eight-year-old-found-living-amongst-monkeys-in-uttar-pradesh-1590649.html

IFLS is only good for click bait and is generally a horrible source.

Fun fact: apes are a kind of monkey, and the English distinction is not always present in other languages.

It's quite possible you're inferring too much from a translation artifact.

Apes aren't a kind of monkey, or vice versa; apes and monkeys are both kinds of simian.

> The simians (infraorder Simiiformes, Anthropoidea) are the monkeys, cladistically including the apes: the New World monkeys or platyrrhines, and the catarrhine clade consisting of the Old World monkeys and apes.


Wikipedia explains it well -- there's no way to form a monkey clade (which includes new world monkeys and old world monkeys) which doesn't include apes.

My point was many languages besides English only have a word for the clade, and don't have a specific term for "everything in the clade but apes".

The most natural use of "monkey", and the only one with useful biological meaning, is to identify it with the simians in full (as that's the smallest clade which includes everything we think of as monkeys).

Of course, that makes apes a kind of monkey.

If it's anything like most stories similar to this where feral humans are found without proper language development she's very likely severely developmentally handicapped for life.

Or she has some special mental capabilities due to the lack of linear thinking which is enforced by early language acquisition.

Hm? Examples?

She can survive in a jungle for years, and communicate with a troop of monkeys. You need examples still?

I was thinking more regarding the "linear thinking" part

What's so special about the kind of life humans led before the invention of agriculture? Unusual these days, sure, but...

In India, specially in remote parts, kids would be seen running around without shoes. And many of them don't have access to even simple slippers.

India has a space program and modern military, so why don't they fund "slippers" and such basic needs for population?

When I was growing up (early 70s) summer meant barefoot for kids. I've talked to many others from PA, California, and Texas and they said similar.

What's wrong with kids running around barefoot?

Depending on where you live in the world, a lot of infectious diseases can spread by either wounds on the foot or vectors invading through the sole of the foot.

Considering that the commenter jut told you where in the world he was talking about, I don't think you need to be as generally worried and vague as you're being here.

I mean, depending on where you live in the world, a lot of infectious diseases can spread by either wounds on the hand or vectors invading through the palm of the hand.

GAHHHHH! All the children must wear hand-shoes all the time!! Otherwise they'll all die! Maybe we adults (alleged adults. I refuse to believe I am one.) should too.


You're just being silly and worrisome.

The commenter actually didn't say where they lived, and didn't limit the question to any location. I live in Kenya and my one year old walks around a lot of the time without shoes, which is a calculated risk. I assure you I'm being neither silly nor worrisome - I just factually answered the parent's question about what the potential issues are with not wearing shoes.

edit: to be less vague:

(1) Tetanus spores are present in soil all over the world and can easily infect a cut on the foot - between 1 and 2 in 10 cases are fatal (https://www.cdc.gov/tetanus/index.html).

(2) Hookwork larvae are present in soil all over the USA (and many other places) and can infect through intact skin - not fatal but can have unpleasant complications (https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/hookworm/)

(3) bilharzia infects through skin contact with contaminated water which includes puddles and just wet soil - not in the USA but many other countries - and kills tens of millions every year (https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/schistosomiasis/index.html)

Same thing. Born in Texas in the late 70s. I never wore shoes as a kid or teenager. I mean, I'd wear them to school and stuff, but when we were playing around outside there were no shoes.

I don't know about you, but the only reason I need shoes in my day to day life is because I grew up wearing shoes. Left to their own account, my feet would be at least as durable against thorns and rocks as a pair of Amer-Aid flip flops.

Shoes are a prison for the mind.

These shoes might solve that problem: [1]

[1] https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/b7/69/46/b769...

Do they make a version for weirdos like me with a Morton's toe? (Longer second toe than big toe)


Wow, I have that too! Now I know what it's called.

For what it's worth, I have a pair of vibrams and they're very comfortable, even for weirdos like us. I imagine it's just a matter of sizing.

Ahh, ye olde hallicusbradymetatarsalgia!


I've been thinking about buying these, along with a worn out pair of "normal" shoes.

Then I'll cut out the soles and put the top part over the weird comfy shoes.

Best of both worlds!

I own a few pairs of Vibram Fivefingers, they're lovely. You feel so much more of the ground you're walking on, so many textures!

Death to all footcoffins!

The exposed toe is easy to damage, that's why it makes sense to encase all of them in a single container.

They're not so much footcoffins as they are toe and sole protectors.

What do you mean by exposed? Unless you're doing intricate climbing the chances of catching a toe on something in VFs is nill.

All VFs have a bit of rubber padding on the front of the toe to prevent toe-stubbing.

I've noticed a significant improvement in the coordination/sensitivity of my feet, I stub my toe a lot less often in VFs than when I wear regular shoes. My calves have also become a lot stronger, and my balance has improved as well.

I have a few pairs as well. I do recognize that they are weird-looking. But they feel so good to wear. Especially in winter. I love the way it feels to walk around in the snow in those things.

I don't wear them all the time, but it's fun when I do.

Every time I see those things, I can't hold back laughter.

They're pretty funny-looking :)

I think the toed socks are definitely very weird-looking, especially when they come in white, looks like a some sort of fetish gear.

Walking barefoot is not a big deal. And many times there is religious / cultural aspect too [1]



Because Indians are smart enough to realize that it's better to fund those slippers using an uber-successful space program than to tax people or asking the reserve to print more currency.

EDIT: Let me rephrase (hence "slippers" in quotes) - when I see the photos of India, I see poverty, people starving, literally living in garbage, etc... That might not be 100% of India, but I suspect it relates to significant part of the population. So how this goes in tandem with the country being able to fund a space program and so on...

> when I see the photos of India, I see poverty, people starving, literally living in garbage

Lets take that sentence and s/India/Flint/. "When I see the photos of Flint, I see poverty, people starving, literally living in garbage". It isn't far off isn't it? So how would you feel if a person from China asked us, how are you able to fund NASA when you have your own citizens desperate in Flint? How are you able to fund NASA when you have growing illiteracy in many American cities? People believing the earth is flat. People killing each other in Chiraq. People asking us why we have the highest incarceration rate and effectively modern-slavery system in the world. Do you see how your question reflects more on us and our own culture?

Funding the space program is part of the aspirational work that a country does that brings about the cultural change and technological productivity boosts necessary to help solve the first order poverty problems.

Because poverty isn't a problem born out of "literally not enough money to feed the population" it's significantly more complex than that.

That space program is a revenue making venture - so don't worry about India - we can travel to space just fine without burning a hole in our pockets. Can you ?

What makes you think they need shoes?

I don't know, but maybe because of the caste system ?

  > I want to see her feet, specifically 
  > her toes. If she really hasn't ever 
  > worn shoes then her toes will show it.


Uh, I'm no podiatrist, but those images are not particularly well distinguished from shoe wearing peers.

I don't look at those images and immediately think "feet that have never worn shoes" in my mind.

Look at the bones. Look at how their toes line up with the longer bones in the foot. Then look at your own smallest toes. Look at how they bend inwards and are not aligned with the bones in the foot. That's what wearing shoes while a child does. It's one of a host of little tells that forever indicates the physical conditions in which a person is raised.

This is pretty much on national news right now and it's out of the hands of the local police.

From what we can tell, the news is pretty accurate.

Thanks for the link! I'm enjoying unshoeing my body :D


Please don't violate the guidelines by calling names like this. If you have a point to make, we need you to make it civilly and substantively.


Its just a news story. May be its true. There is no need to get emotional.

Hope her integration to society is handled carefully. So far she has been treated like an animal in zoo by humans too (Check the photos of groups of people looking at her):



Don't even think about it. This is one reason I felt she was better left the way she was.

Rehabilitation in India is a joke. The people attending to her neither have the knowledge not resources to cater to her.

Mental asylums and health centers in India are filled with sexual predators. They know that she can't complain about it nor would someone lend an ear if she tried to say something. Which makes her an easy target. Sexual abuse is the norm in mental health centers here.

Most mental health centers lack infrastructure, resources and fall short of trained personnel. It is a common sight to see patients chained, and thrown food at.

My first reaction when I heard the news - She was better in the forest away from the predators. I hope she gets the right sophisticated care and compassion she needs at this point of time.

From the administration, to hospital staff, to law enforcement, everybody's only motive right now is/would be to get some circus time and then get rid of her somehow or the other.

I've lived all my life here and though I am not sure whether you are from here but when I read, "Rehabilitation in India is a joke", my first reaction was it's an understatement!.

Or she might as well be treated as a guinea pig in the guise of "research".

A naked girl running through the wilderness isn't exactly safe from sexual abuse and predation.

Sounds like she had a cadre of monkeys protecting her. That would probably deter all but the most determined sexual predators.

Heh, that's what I was thinking.

I don't know... she was protected by a group of monkeys. Seeing monkeys on Planet Earth I'd say that is some pretty solid protection.

Until some of the male monkeys decide that she's a good enough substitute for a female monkey.

We're not the only species that produces rapists.

Well I was going to say even at 10 she had probably already discovered that but she also probably developed a different concept of rape and sexual assault.

I think you have been watching too many movies lately. Your blanket statement about health centres is far from the truth.

It's not all that far from the truth in the US. Why should India be different?

Aside: Interesting that the Malayam and Bengali versions of the article censor the girl's face from the header photo, and exclude the mid-article photo (the Hindi and English versions have both pictures fully intact). I could see that for the Malayam version, but I didn't totally expect it for the Bengali version.

Did you mean "Malayalam"?

EDIT: For those who don't understand the reference, "Malayalam" [1] is the official language of the South Indian state of Kerala.

The question was asking if the parent post mistyped "Malayam" instead of "Malayalam".

Looks like some folks have misunderstood my post and reacted negatively.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malayalam

Yeah, it was a typo introduced paradoxically by my spellchecker. Somebody misspelled Malayalam as Malayam on my Chrome, then added it to the dictionary (!). Anyway, yes, I meant Malayalam.

Sorry, you remember incorrectly. The former pronunciation is correct. The stress is on the third syllable.

The wikipedia article says it's pronounced "mʌləˈjɑːləm" (3rd syllable stressed), yet don't people in Kerala say "mʌˈlɑːjələm" (2nd syllable stressed, last 2 syllables almost spoken as one). It's been 30 yrs since I visited, so maybe I remember wrongly. If so, then maybe writing "Malayam" instead of "Malayalam" isn't too far wrong.

> The wikipedia article says it's pronounced "mʌləˈjɑːləm" (3rd syllable stressed), yet don't people in Kerala say "mʌˈlɑːjələm" (2nd syllable stressed, last 2 syllables almost spoken as one). It's been 30 yrs since I visited, so maybe I remember wrongly.

Can anyone verify the correct pronunciation?

> If so, then maybe writing "Malayam" instead of "Malayalam" isn't too far wrong.

No, it's very far wrong. (I'm a Malayali.)

For other Indians, please stop bringing your regional biases to global forums. Also 'Malayam'. Really?

Thanks. The Daily Mail has quite a bit information than the posted article. Most interesting part:

> 'She is still not able to speak, but understands whatever you tell her and even smiles,' Singh said

I feel there is a good chance that she was better off with monkeys.

Me too...

This reminds me of the story of Kaspar Hauser[1] (which was made in to a movie by Werner Herzog[2]) and of the fascinating book Seeing Voices by Oliver Sacks.[3]

In his book, Sacks investigates various cases of children growing up without language, how they cope (or don't cope) with it, how they finally acquire language (if they do), and how differently they see the world in both the pre-linguistic and post-linguistic states. Hauser was one of the most famous cases of this sort, Helen Keller[4] was another.

Reading this book inspired me to learn sign language, which I expected to be radically different from spoken and written language, and more powerful in many ways, as you can physically describe things in ways that has little parallel to spoken and written languages.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaspar_hauser

[2] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Enigma_of_Kaspar_Hauser

[3] - https://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Voices-Oliver-Sacks/dp/0375704...

[4] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_keller

> Reading this book inspired me to learn sign language, which I expected to be radically different from spoken and written language, and more powerful in many ways, as you can physically describe things in ways that has little parallel to spoken and written languages.

Was it?

Yes and no. Yes, it's really different from spoken and written language, that's true. But I was disappointed in that a lot of it was really obvious, and I didn't get much insight from it. For example, to make a sign for a house you take both hands and kind of make the shape of an prototypical house (a peaked roof and two walls)... hard to describe in words, but obvious when you see it. Or when making the sign for drive, you move your hands as if turning a car's steering wheel.

Those kinds of signs didn't give me the aha moments I was yearning for. But perhaps part of my problem was that I only took a couple of introductory sign language courses. Maybe with exposure to more advanced sign language it would be different. I've considered taking some more courses to see what I'm missing.

> Those kinds of signs didn't give me the aha moments I was yearning for. But perhaps part of my problem was that I only took a couple of introductory sign language courses. Maybe with exposure to more advanced sign language it would be different. I've considered taking some more courses to see what I'm missing.

Given that, I would say there's a good chance you aren't missing something; that sign language really isn't much different from any other language. I'm sure you've considered that yourself, though.

Another fascinating read is Talking Hands by Margalit Fox about an Arab village in Israel where the deaf are a disproportionate part of the population. A sign language emerged that within a couple generations every hearing member of the village knew.

The monkeys seem to have been doing a better job at parenting than the people here. Note how the text below one of the pictures says she's frightened of people and the picture right above it has a whole bunch of (all male cast) busybodies crowding into a little room with her in it.

She has some access to hygiene, clean water and food, medical attention, etc. Her life expectancy is going to be much higher in human society, though she will likely have difficulty adopting to society and will be behind on language and other skill development.

Of course she is frightened of people as it's still a new experience for her, and of course there's a cast of busybodies crowding her room, especially during a photo/camera op. However, it's wrong to say that the monkeys are doing a better job at parenting. There is no noble Mowgli fairy tale going on here.

I don't mean to be rude but:

(1) who decided to bring the media in?

(2) who decided that she should have a whole pile of people crowding in on her other than those responsible for her immediate care?

(3) who decided that all this has to be forced on her in record time?

I can see so many things (besides the three listed above) that are wrong from just a common sense point of view that the humans are definitely not acting just in her best interest here. At least the monkeys did not turn her into some kind of media spectacle.

Yes, hygiene, clean water and food are all good as is - probably - medical attention. But none of those trump an immediate barrage like the one described and visualized in the article, that's not for her benefit but for the benefit of the others present.

So, this is not about there being a 'Mowgli fairy tale', this is about how fairly obviously this is not being done in a way that is calculated to be of the biggest benefit to her. Culture shock is real and this girl is currently forced into an extreme version of that.

> (1) who decided to bring the media in?

I don't know, but I'd place my wager on whoever turns this into a movie.

If she was very young when she was abandoned, then it's likely her speech center never developed and will never develop.

It's worse and somewhat fascinating. Instead of acquiring human language which leads to normal human consciousness, she'll have acquired the language of the apes and presumably developed a sort of ape-like consciousness. In theory she would exhibit visual memory and recall superior to what humans are normally capable of (like the apes in this article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2279528/Memory-chimp...).

Cases like this are so extraordinarily rare that we will probably never really know for certain what the human brain is capable of in these extremes.

Monkeys, not apes. English is a "language of the apes". And chimpanzees, who are in the same hominin family as we ourselves, are really no more similar or comparable to monkeys than we are.

Huh? Feral children can acquire language skills, but they will never have a full native fluency. Genie learned to communicate with language. In OP child's case, she'd be learning language like most people learn to speak a second language late in life.


Cases like this are so rare and so unique that you simply cannot speak in general about "feral children". In the case of Genie she would have acquired some human language from her father in the first 20 months even if she only ever overheard him talking, enough apparently to seed a rudimentary semantic layer in her mind that facilitated her learning more advanced language later on (but nothing approaching full maturity).

Don't people usually learn a second language by bootstrapping on their native language though?

In a formal learning environment like a classroom, sure. Native language (or even another second language) is a crutch to associate concepts in the new language. Informal environments without a base language, I'm not sure many (if any?) know how that feral person learns, but we do know it is possible for them to communicate using language.

I think a lack of metalinguistic awareness plays a major role in language learning as the learner would have no way to reflect/process on the language. This skill is huge, and it's built in ages 6-8. This is the language skill that lets us discern literal and implied meaning from language (statements vs sarcasm), reflect on non-literal concepts (idioms and "love") and analyze and correct incoming communications that contain incorrect usage in word choice, grammar or pronunciation (e.g. If someone misspoke "He is...to the store...going," we infer the speaker likely means "He is going to the store").

Without a base language and meta linguistic skills, language learning would be done with very concrete utterances and gesturing which is consistent with immersion learning of a second language, but the learner's fluency will likely never progress to the point that a second language learner's fluency could reach.

I'd be surprised if that's true.

My daughter lost most of her speech skills at the age of three, was diagnosed autistic, and after extensive therapy by age 9 was main-streamed and on the honor roll. She speaks fine, though with affectations.

But she was exposed to other people speaking, wasn't she?

The Daily Mail article pointed out in another comment said she understand everything she's told - so she must have separated from humans after learning basic language.

> of course there's a cast of busybodies crowding her room, especially during a photo/camera op

But why is there a photo op in the first place?

I can see the case for a small photo op to get them off their back and figure out what to do. But this does not look like that.

Will she be happier? I doubt it.

>> The monkeys seem to have been doing a better job at parenting than the people here.

Wait until she hits puberty. The monkeys probably saw her as a child. Once her pheromones started saying otherwise things would have become violent very quickly. Setting aside how the males might view here, there are hierarchies of females that need to be fought over. We don't have the natural tools, the teeth, necessary to exist in most primate societies.

That assumes that human pheromones are similar enough to monkey pheromones for the male monkeys to react to. This seems somewhat unlikely, given that male humans don't react with sexual attraction to the pheromones of female monkeys.

> ... given that male humans don't react with sexual attraction to the pheromones of female monkeys.

Umm, where are you concluding that from? Does it not seem possible that humans would share with our relatives some olfactory communication substances and their effects?

We still have very little understanding of olfactory communication between humans (no human pheromones are known AFAIK) so I am sure we don't know yet about the lack of reaction to chemicals from other monkeys that you are positing.

Anyways, our reactions to other species' pheromones would not lead to conclusions in the opposite direction.

Animals can certainly tell male humans from females. Anyone with a dog or cat can see this. We are all mammals. Our chemistry isnt all that different.

Yes, but recognizing a distinction between males and females of another species is not the same thing as recognizing that one of them is the gender you're attracted to sexually.

Ever been to a zoo that had monkeys? Ever had the least bit of attraction to a female monkey (if you're male) or seen a human man attracted to a female monkey?

You said (not that that would be especially relevant to the discussion) that humans wouldn't experience such feelings in response to monkey pheromones, but that does not necessarily relate to our lack of sexual attraction towards monkeys. The facts are, they already did seem to perceive her as belonging to their group (as they defended her) and it is possible that things would have turned violent because of social dynamics and competition if she matured among them.

This discussion is kind of too long already but here's a few things you may be missing:

* Apes do rape women. * Humans use apes as "prostitutes" in some villages. (Tangential to your argument but not really relevant to the girl's case.)

Not disagreeing with the general thrust of your argument, but she would have been significantly larger than the monkeys, so not sure if being ill-equipped to fight would have been her biggest problem.

In that case, it seems they found her just in time!

This is the darker (and probably more truthful) variant of the story: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/08/indian-girl-fo...

" 'In India, people do not prefer a female child and she is mentally not sound,' DK Singh said. 'So all the more [evidence] she was left there.' "

They probably should have left her there. There have been a few cases of feral children found that were older and they did not end up well, in the end just pushed them into a mental institution. I think it's better living with the monkeys than living in a mental institution. We don't actually have much better solutions to the problem.

Is there any evidence a human CAN be raised by monkeys? Are you suggesting it's better to leave her to die?

Would have been interesting to have Jane Goodall involved. She could have left the child integrated but used the circumstance to bridge the communication divide between us and other primates because this girl surely knows things we never will.

I read somewhere that reintegration with human society mostly fails for feral children. Is it really a rescue if she dies at a young age, alone?

in New Horizons Chomsky writes a bit about cases like this. IIRC a person raised like this has never been reintegrated and per Chomsky it's not really possible because the person will have developed a kind of consciousness that is fundamentally different from what we consider a 'normal' consciousness. Here's a video of him talking about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-30ZCHk1Ydk

I think it's pretty clear at this point that citing Chomsky in cases like this is like citing Velikovsky when discussing celestial mechanics. Wrong and inapposite.

you're probably right - somebody start teaching this girl english, she'll be fine! what's the father of cognitive science and modern linguistics know about anything?

> what's the father of cognitive science and modern linguistics know about anything?

If he hasn't observed at least a dozen such children trying to learn language for a dozen years then he doesn't even know what are the things he doesn't know.

And guess what, I watched your video and even Chomsky admits that he only heard about few cases of feral children of which the one he talked about in detail means little because the girl was severely mistreated by parents in addition to growing up in isolation. And then he talked some more about other people inventing their own languages, but not living in complete social isolation.

Who's 'she'? Anyway, I think you ought to rethink your claim that Chomsky is the father of cognitive science and of modern linguistics.

> Who's 'she'?

The feral girl.

> Anyway, I think you ought to rethink your claim that Chomsky is the father of cognitive science and of modern linguistics.

He is one of the founders of cognitive science, and a major contributor to linguistics.

So his claim is factually true.

Surely debatable. It's true that reintegration typically fails. Ferral children reveal how normal neural development requires early exposure to language and socialization. Most never acquire language.

We are truly social creatures.

Feral children usually suffered terrible trauma and abuse. Often they were disabled even before being abandoned. It's hard to separate those issues from the mere lack of being taught language. There are deaf people who weren't taught sign language until later in life, and they turn out ok.

Also she arguably got some socialization from the monkeys. I mean that's probably very imperfect. But it's very different than the cases of kids being locked up in rooms with no contact to anything.

This is truly heartbreaking.

I had no idea this had happened before or even that it could happen. Is this not a very rare event?

I'm guessing that the survival rate for feral children can't be very high, and even more so if the child gets to grow up.

Fascinating subject albeit very... discomforting.

> I had no idea this had happened before or even that it could happen. Is this not a very rare event?

You may be interested to learn about the founding of Rome. Check out the top of this poster: http://www.olympicartifacts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/1...

Well yeah, I'm familiar with it but it's not a modern event and I'm not sure how much of myth and how much of reality is mixed here.

That is a time that children have been raised by animals before. Dogs raising abandoned children is not unheard of even now, so the Roman story passes the sniff test for me.


The reference is to Romulus and Remus, the legendary founding of Rome.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romulus_and_Remus

The story of Romulus and Remus is quite far fetched. Personally, I love the myth but it does enact a lot of doubt.

From my recollection, the brothers became strong from drinking the wolf's milk; strong enough to build a city destined for greatness. (They were also saved by gods?)

Considering that most early civilization formed around fresh bodies of water and the positive connotation that barbarians (feral children) were integrated into society to become Kings is rather pleasant.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romulus_and_Remus

[1] http://www.ancient.eu/Mesopotamia/

[EDIT] I took too long to reply, I guess, and my comment was applied to the wrong thread. I apologize for the confusion.

The comment was meant for @rangibaby

Now the battle begins to shape her story such that it can be used to reconfirm one of a number of different competing narratives about man's relationship with nature, nature vs nurture, theories about language acquisition, the "critical period" and early childhood development. Did I miss any?

Editor’s note:

    New information has been reported since publication
    of this story that raise significant doubts
    about the veracity of the initial accounts on which it
    was based. The story relied on reports by the Associated
    Press and the New Indian Express quoting local officials
    who came upon her, and a video interview with the
    physician who treated her. These versions of what
    happened to her are now being questioned by other
    officials quoted in the Guardian and the Hindustan Times.
    While the girl appears to have been abandoned near the 
    forest in question, according to these new reports, 
    these officials do not believe she had been living 
    among monkeys. The original headline has been changed, 
    and you can read about the new developments here.
Whoah! An editor cautioning against sensationalism, I dont get to see that often.

Anyone know what kind of monkeys they were? I can't find any mention of it in this article or the original referenced source.

It's possible she could end up like this unfortunately: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genie_(feral_child)

I want to quote at length because it's fascinating in the context of the left/right hemisphere concepts Iain McGilchrist has been best known for (especially the idea that left-hemisphere dominance is a relatively recent human adaptation):





Linguists also administered several brain exams specifically geared towards measuring Genie's language comprehension. On one such test she had no difficulty giving the correct meaning of sentences containing familiar homophones, demonstrating that her receptive comprehension was significantly better than her expressive language. Genie also did very well at identifying rhymes, both tasks that adult split-brain and left hemispherectomy patients had previously been recorded performing well on. During these tests an EEG consistently picked up more activity from the two electrodes over the right hemisphere of her brain than from those over the normal locations of the Broca's area and Wernicke's area, and found especially high involvement from her right anterior cerebral cortex, lending further support to the researchers' conclusion that Genie was using her right hemisphere to acquire language.

As early as 1972 Genie scored between the level an 8-year-old and an adult on all right-hemisphere tasks the scientists tested her on, and showed extraordinarily rapid improvement on them. Her ability to piece together objects solely from tactile information was exceptionally good, and on spatial awareness tests her scores were reportedly the highest ever recorded. Similarly, on a Mooney Face Test in May 1975 had the highest score in medical literature at that time, and on a separate gestalt perception test her extrapolated score was in the 95th percentile for adults. On several other tests involving right-hemisphere tasks, her results were markedly better than other people in equivalent phases of mental development; in 1977 the scientists measured her capacity for stereognosis at approximately the level of a typical 10-year-old, significantly higher than her estimated mental age. The scientists also noted in 1974 that Genie seemed to be able to recognize the location she was in and was good at getting from one place to another, an ability which primarily involves the right hemisphere.

Genie's performance on these tests led the scientists to believe that her brain had lateralized, and that her right hemisphere had undergone specialization. Because Genie's performance was so high on such a wide variety of tasks predominantly utilizing the right hemisphere of her brain, they concluded her exceptional abilities extended to typical right-hemisphere functions in general and were not specific to any individual task. They attributed her extreme right hemisphere dominance to the fact that what very little cognitive stimulation she did receive was almost entirely visual and tactile. While even this had been extremely minimal it had been enough to commence lateralization in her right hemisphere, and the severe imbalance in stimulation caused her right hemisphere to become extraordinarily developed.

By contrast, Genie performed significantly below average and showed much slower progress on all tests measuring predominantly left-hemisphere tasks. Stephen Krashen wrote that by 2 years after the first examinations on her mental age Genie's scores on left-hemisphere tasks consistently fell into the 2½- to 3-year-old range, only showing an improvement of 1½ years. On sequential order tests she consistently scored well below average for someone with a fully intact brain, although she did somewhat better on visual than on auditory tests. The scientists especially noted that she did not start to count until late 1972, and then only in an extremely deliberate and laborious manner. In January 1972 the scientists measured her in the 50th percentile for an 8½- to 9-year-old on Raven's Progressive Matrices, although they noted she was outside of the age range of the test's design. Similarly, when the scientists administered Knox Cubes tests in 1973 and 1975 Genie's score improved from the level of a 6-year-old to a 7½-year-old, more rapid than her progress with language but significantly slower than that of right hemisphere tasks.

The story if true is discomforting, the mind ponders, and it does not completely add up.

We know the 'facts' but we also don't. This is exactly the kind of story that needs fact checking, but to get that you need people on the ground, who are experienced and confirmation will take time which the attention span of the news cycle will not allow.

The worst is turning it into some kind of circus. Hope that now with the global attention the Indian authorities will immediately retrieve her from the current facilities with people clearly not trained for this, and get her the kind of specialized care and sensitivity she needs.

How ethical is it to force her to leave the monkeys to become a "normal" human ?

How ethical is it to leave her and then be abused by the monkeys.

Monkeys defended her, who said they abused her? Now she's abused by humans, great.

It must have been awfully traumatic, to say nothing of ethics.

‘Mowgli girl’ found in January, cop says was clothed, no monkeys.

"There were no monkeys. She was not naked, and she wasn’t using her hands to walk. I don’t know how these stories are being spread.


The first expression I had was: What rights do we humans have to take her back from her family(monkeys in this case) and her home (the forest)? Just because she is our kind, should we impose our culture, our values, our ways (and our governments) on her?

But then - this feels more like a creative story. From the videos it looks like she might have been in the forest only for some time and needs rehab, but I am no expert here.

Yeah, right. I mean, this is pretty much like taking a child from a family just because the family is a different race/culture.

Unless you can guarantee that the child will adapt and have a better life (better != longer), I think it's immoral to take her from her original surroundings.


These types of junk-news stories seem to make their rounds on the Internet for several weeks before finally evaporating into the ether.

What's interesting is that in the past they would seem to manage to stay off the HN front page.

Now it seems like I see these stories start circulating on Outbrain or the other click bait networks and I think, well, that'll be on HN in a week or so!

These stories are usually large part fake news, or reality tweaked or skewed with some angle to make it almost irresistible to read about. I personally have no use for these types of stories on HN but certainly understand they are created with a very compelling hook to want to share them.

I feel it is a badly-written article.

If the girl managed to survive for so many years, she should have been left with the trouppe of primates and get observed. This sudden change will probably be worse than any other less brutal change in the environment.

She would likely die the moment she entered puberty.

My way would be to observe and befriend the group of primates and gradually befriend them. The sudden removal is not in the benefit of the welfare of the girl.

A gradual process in several months would be more successful.

Time will show whether the sudden removal is going to work this time.

Why on earth would you think that?

Because animals in general (both male and female) start acting very violently when there's a child that starts secreting pheromones and looking like an adult. For monkeys in particular it's the beginning of fights between females that determine their future social status.

But the idea that monkeys would react to human pheromones is a bit of a jump. Especially considering the degree to which humans don't react to monkey pheromones.

It's a huge less bit of a jump than the idea they wouldn't react at all. Monkeys are animals while humans are intelligent, and more importantly, most of their senses are much worse. You don't smell the monkey, but that doesn't change anything about the monkey's ability to smell you - we're talking about monkeys reacting violently to humans, not the other way around.

That they'll notice a difference, sure. That they'll interpret that difference as "adult female"... far more speculative.

An observation that adds nothing to the story/discussion: DK Singh. Donkey Kong.

It's finally happened.

Washington Post has completed the transition into a full blown supermarket tabloid.


More like when they calling Gloria Allred?

> Numerous stories of feral children ...

"Feral children?" How amusing; is that an actual phrase?

It evokes a domesticated species of rug-rat, bred in the wild.

It is common in India for family members to put their autistic/badly born kids into a cage and display them in circus. I remember a family showing three of their kids in a circus as "animals" just because the babies were autistic and had tail like features.

No one else here disturbed that a intellectually handicapped girl who was abandoned by the system has been turned into a dancing monkey for HN's amusement.

Surely the discussion here should be more about what a horrific system exists in parts of India that handicapped people are turned into stories.

Do I really need to spell it out it's an abandoned handicapped girl found near monkeys????

The doctor says when she was brought in she was near starving (video)? Were the monkeys looking after her or not?

This is a common fairy tale, seriously people, what is wrong with you that you can't see the real story here. It's about poverty, people not dealing with mental illness and broken systems???

The fact doctors even allowed her to be filmed for your amusement shows they are not very well trained.

Did you not read the comments? Plenty of people are discussing the issues you mentioned.

Right, and they are only able to do so as a result of the media sensation the girl has been turned into.

They are discussing things like look at her feet to see if it's true. It's not true, how could you ever ever believe that.

It's a fucking fairy tail.

About how people in poverty deal with mental retardation.

They are not dealing with the issue at hand.

Seriously, someone mentioned Jane Goodall, fuck.....

Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact