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]
A baby gorilla who had to be delivered through an emergency cesarean section and had some rocky early days has celebrated her first birthday at San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Includes video of gorillas eating yam cake.
The folks at the Duke Lemur Center are helpfully offering you the opportunity to figure out: what kind of lemur are you? [more inside]
"The mammal mother works hard to stop her children from taking more than she is willing to give. The children fight back with manipulation, blackmail and violence. Their ferocity is nowhere more evident than in the womb [...] Pregnancy is a lot more like war than we might care to admit."
For the first time, Primatologists have observed chimps in the wild spreading a cultural fad through their troop.
We already know that yawning is highly contagious and, in humans and other primates, may be rooted in empathy. Human-dog yawning contagion is well known too, as previously shown in Metafilter, but its causes are contradictory, as yawning in dogs is also associated with psychological tension or mild stress. A new study confirms that dogs yawn more frequently when watching their owner than when watching a stranger, demonstrating that the contagiousness of yawning in dogs correlates with the level of emotional proximity, possibly indicating rudimentary forms of empathy in dogs.
Orangutans playing with iPads! It is well-known that our ape cousins are highly intelligent. When they are in captivity, it is critical to give them ways to enrich and entertain themselves. As it turns out, Orangutans love using iPads. [more inside]
Robin Schwartz has photographs in The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, and The National Museum of Art among many other institutions. She depicts our relationships with animals as exhibited by her galleries: Primate Portraits, demonstrating the animals' unique personalities, The Presence of Animals in People's Lives in Rural Mexico, Amelie's World: Animal Affinity, drawn from real journeys taken with her daughter. See also Amelie's World: Dreams and Amelie's World: Imaginary Tales. [more inside]
The HIV ancestor virus, SIV, has been around much longer than previously thought. The NY Times notes: "And that assumption in turn complicates a question that has bedeviled AIDS scientists for years: What happened in Africa in the early 20th century that let a mild monkey disease move into humans, mutate to become highly transmissible and then explode into one of history’s great killers, one that has claimed 25 million lives so far?" [more inside]
Monkey Business: four short films (about three minutes each) by Matthew Killip, about people who work with monkeys and apes. India: Rhesus Macaques as pests; USA: Chimpanzee as research subject; Nigeria: baboons as entertainers; Indonesia: macaque as harvester.
Look at that tail! Stephen Nash has illustrated the most endangered primates (image gallery: part 1, part 2) -- so faithfully over the years that one now bears his name. The just-released "Primates in Peril" report has full profiles of each animal, along with all of Nash's illustrations (including those replaced by photos in the gallery above -- don't miss the sumatran orangutan!).
The X Finger a prosthetic for digital amputees.
How Do You Get Crabs From A Gorilla? One of many little evolutionary cases Carl Zimmer tackles in The Parasite Files.
A Natural History of Peace. Humans like to think that they are unique, but the study of other primates has called into question the exceptionalism of our species. So what does primatology have to say about war and peace? Contrary to what was believed just a few decades ago, humans are not "killer apes" destined for violent conflict, but can make their own history.
It's official, humans are dumber than chimps. These guys show (at the NY Times level) that human kids will over-imitate every ritualized nuance modeled for them, whereas chimp kids just wanna get the damn cookie out of the box. Their website also describes more of their studies.
Talking Primates with Frans de Waal: Frans de Waal is a primatologist who's challenged male supremacy in evolution, the belief that monkeys don't perceive images as we do, and the idea that they don't possess emotions ascribed to humans. His new book, Our Inner Ape, posits that the human duality of good and evil is in fact something we've inherited directly from primates.
Don't piss off the chimpanzees. Really. They'll chew your **lls and face off.
A new species of monkey turned up in India [NYTimes or Rediff]. Though the monkeys are new to science, people in the area are quite familiar with them. They call them "mun zala" or deep forest monkeys. It's a stocky, short-tailed, brown-haired creature they have named the Macaca munzala, or Arunachal macaque. Maybe not that excting for those of us not excited by, uh, mokeys, but did you know this year there have been other new things discovered? A new species of plec and one of Neon goby, even more exciting, a new electric fish was found as well. A quick search turned up dozens of new fish this year. ABC News says 178 new things found in the oceans this year alone, raising the number of life-forms found in the world's oceans to about 230,000. The big question is, of course, how many of those will Taste Like Chicken? The bad news on the little critter front is 1 in 10 bird species could vanish within 100 years, and I bet they all taste like chicken.
Six foot tall ferocious lion killing species of ape discovered in jungles of the Congo. Or they could be giant chimpanzees. Or half-breeds. The discovery has baffled scientists.
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.
Primates as Programmers. New firm breaks the mold. Hires primates as programmers leading to significant cost savings!
Copito de Nieve, a.k.a. Floquet de Neu, the only known white gorilla dies at age 37. It was one of the symbols of my hometown Barcelona. Snowflake was the star of the Barcelona Zoo, he always surrounded by female gorillas (not surprisingly he produced 22 offspring but none of them albino) and was famous because of his bad mood and tendency to throw things around. He was finally put down today as his skin cancer condition was aggravating. There it goes a no small part of my childhood (although I preferred the dolphins, always so cheerful)... Snowflake no longer lives with Virunga and Coco... (sigh!)
Little Joe waited at the bus stop before continuing his bid to escape the authorities. The 300-pound gorilla had just broken out of his Franklin Park Zoo enclosure for the second time in two months, overcoming a newly-installed electric fence, injuring two people and terrifying others. The gorilla was hit with four tranquilizer darts but had managed to pull at least one of them out. Little Joe's namesake reminds us that we've known for at least 70 years that big apes in the middle of cities can cause major problems. Why are they still there?
Cultured Apes: According to a study published in today's issue of the journal Science, orangutans have been passing on a shared culture for generations (free registration required to view entire study). To what degree are animals intelligent? Are primates more intelligent than other animals? What about crows and ravens? (My favorite subject of animal intelligence studies is still Koko the gorilla.)
Cloning is not monkey business. According to this article there is something fundamentally amiss in the cloning of primates. Do I sense some hot air going out of the balloons of the guys who predicted they'd be cloning humans in the near future?
Monkeys are capable of abstract reasoning according to recent research, which may have "profound implications for the evolution of human intelligence and the stuff that separates homo sapiens from other animals."
Just so long as there are enough bananas to go round, it's OK by me ...
Just so long as there are enough bananas to go round, it's OK by me ...
Make love not war. Amoung humans closest relatives, these monkeys solve conflict by makeing love. A lot. Female dominate society they have no homicide and tensions in the group are non existent.
Tale of the Coke Monkeys. GAH! Coke may lead to Cannabis! It's Salon, but it's hilarious.