In 1975, the New York Blood Center (NYBC) decided to bring 100 chimpanzees to Liberia to conduct research on hepatitis and other human diseases. The research worked: we now have a vaccine for hepatitis B, and the research project ended in 2005. But NYBC left the chimps in Liberia, promising that they could retire there and be cared for until the natural end of their lives. In March 2015, NYBC abruptly ended funding for the chimp sanctuary. The chimps are slowly starving to death, dependent on the charity of unpaid caregivers for food and fresh water. NYBC says they have no legal or moral obligation to help. [more inside]
Chimpnology Another perfectly normal and sweet animated short by that lovable scamp Cyriak. (The dreaded SLYT)
I discovered a new species up my nose. It could well be that the Ugandan nostril ticks have yet to spread beyond the particular park where we conducted our research. We now have to return and set traps to catch more. More on Tony Goldberg
"After she passed, the chimps examined the body, inspecting Pansy’s mouth, pulling her arm and leaning their faces close to hers. Blossom sat by Pansy’s body through the night. And when she finally moved away to sleep in a different part of the enclosure, she did so fitfully, waking and repositioning herself dozens more times than was normal. For five days after Pansy’s death, none of the other chimps would sleep on the platform where she died."— "Want to Understand Mortality? Look to the Chimps", by Maggie Koerth-Baker in the NYT [more inside]
"The idea that a species domesticated itself is a bit crazy, but there are some species that outcompeted others by becoming nicer." Wired examines the phenomena of self-domestication. [more inside]
Harvard University’s Laboratory for Developmental Studies, colloquially known as the "Baby Lab" is an important center for research into human development. The various research groups at the Baby Lab cover many different areas; Felix Warneken's lab, for example, studies the development of human cooperation, while Elizabeth Spelke is concerned with determining what knowledge human infants are born with. Researching human development certainly produces fascinating findings, but there are perhaps stronger reasons why the lab might hold interest for a layperson. I'm talking, of course, about adorable videos of human and chimpanzee toddlers which have been produced by its researchers. [more inside]
Animals as spiritual, and the role of animals in spirituality. "Some religious leaders welcome pets to worship services, memorialize them at death and discuss them as spiritual beings without distinction from humanity" ... "Factory farming, green living among topics sparking discussion." [more inside]
Indeed, at 6 million years of separation, the difference in [Y-chromosome] gene content in chimpanzee and human is more comparable to the difference in autosomal gene content in chicken and human, at 310 million years of separation.It is commonly said that the Human and Chimpanzee genomes share 99% or more identical DNA. In a surprising development about to be published in Nature, the Y-chromosomes of these two species were found to share only 70% of their DNA, raising important questions about the mode and tempo by which speciation from a common ancestor occurred. This finding may point the finger at the evolution of different patterns of sperm-competition and mating practices within these two species.
Chimpanzees have Learned to Hunt with Spears. While it may not quite be on the level of Dolphins Evolve Opposable Thumbs, it's probably at least a half-step on the "we-are-so-screwed" ladder.
Boy chimp meets Girl chimp boy chimp beats girl chimp to keep her from having sex with his buddies. New scientific study.
Are scrub jays and ravens as smart as chimpanzees? Studies by Nathan J. Emery and Nicola S. Clayton suggest that crows, ravens, jays and other members of Corvidae may be chimpanzees mental equals. Evidence suggesting this includes tool making, the ability to use memories of past experiences and plan for the future, and relatively large brains.
Don't piss off the chimpanzees. Really. They'll chew your **lls and face off.
I'll raise you 5 bananas. What do Primate Programmers do in their off hours? Using David Sklansky's theorys to play Texas Hold'em online. As a poker-playing, programming, primate myself, I can relate.
Eek eek! - Jennings Bryan spins in his grave: "Chimpanzees are so closely related to humans that they should properly be considered as members of the human family, according to new genetic research." [BBC] In the early 1900's, Jennings Bryan offered $100 in cash to anyone who signed an affidavit declaring that he personally was descended from an ape.
The Hunt for the Origin of AIDS "The notion that AIDS arose from a polio vaccine made with contaminated chimpanzee cells is far from the only theory about how the epidemic started, and it is hotly disputed. The quest for the source of the epidemic is intensifying, as researchers scour the jungle for clues and try to "walk back" the disease genetically with the help of the world's most powerful computers."
Crows better than chimps at making tools? British scientists were reportedly "astonished" when a captive crow named Betty "spontaneously bent a straight piece of wire and used it to retrieve a snack." But another scientist says crows have been seen making two kinds of hook tools in the wild, although he's not sure we should say they have "insight." It's clear that there are lots of different kinds of animal intelligences, so why are humans so surprised when dolphins recognize themselves in mirrors, chimps demonstrate culture and lions engage in social problem-solving? What explains the reluctance to admit that animal "consciousness" exists?
Animal burglary a new form of crime? Imagine waking up to see a chimpanzee nicking your cellphone...
Nigerian Boy Raised by Chimps. I swear I'm not making this up. A disabled two-year-old Fulani boy was abandoned by his nomadic family because he was mentally and physically disabled, and was raised by a chimpanzee family in Nigeria's Falgore forest for a year and a half. He was found by hunters several years ago, and now lives in a children's home, where he walks and vocalizes like a chimpanzee, unable to communicate with humans normally. So the obvious question: Is it better to have taken this child away from his chimp family to live in an orphanage, or should they have let him continue to live in the forest?