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(Bio) Primates: Monkey Math Mirrors Our Own
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 1:00 pm    Post subject: (Bio) Primates: Monkey Math Mirrors Our Own Reply with quote






We, humans, belong the order Primates. In this group, apes, monkeys and prosimians are also included. The classification is made because of the similarities we share with these animals. One website worth mentioning in this topic comes from the National Zoo of the United States (located in Washington, DC). This excellent website introduces facts about the great apes and other primates. Classification is one of the important nine concepts in science and in this lesson, learn the similarities and differences between members of the order Primates:

http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Anim.....fferences/



Monkey Math Mirrors Our Own
By Bjorn Carey
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 02 November 2005
12:04 pm ET

If you show someone a mouse and a cat and ask which is smaller, they'll quickly reply, "the mouse." Ask which is bigger, and it takes most people slightly longer to respond.

Conversely, if the two animals are large, such as a cow and an elephant, the typical person will be quicker at saying the elephant is larger than saying the cow is smaller.

Put another way: We can identify the smallest of two small things more quickly than the bigger. And we can identify the biggest of two big things more quickly than the smaller.

This rule, known to scientists from actual tests on people, is known as "semantic congruity," and it also holds true for comparing numbers and distances.

Until now, scientists thought the rule was rooted in our language abilities. But in a recent study by researchers at Duke University, a group of monkeys have shown a similar ability to tell the difference between large and small groups of dots.

Researchers showed macaque monkeys two arrays of randomized numbers of dots on a computer touch screen. Instead of asking the monkeys to choose the larger or smaller array of dots, the researchers gave cues by changing the color of the background behind the dots.

If the background was blue, the monkeys were supposed to touch the larger array. If it was red, they were to choose the smaller one. If they did a good job, they were rewarded with a sip of a sweet drink.

"Clearly, even though their capability has nothing to do with language, it is nevertheless semantic in that the red and blue color cues carry meaning for the monkeys," said study co-author Jessica Cantlon. "Our results showed a very large semantic congruity effect. For example, when the number pair was small, such as two versus three, the monkeys were much faster at choosing the smaller compared to the larger of the pair."

This finding is the most recent in a series of discoveries that indicate our primate cousins display human-like characteristics. Monkeys like to gamble and enjoy looking at other monkeys' bottoms. Chimpanzees have been found to crack under social pressures.

"This is another piece of the puzzle showing us that the comparison mechanism that the monkeys use is, as far as we can tell, the same mechanism that humans are using," said study co-author Elizabeth Brannon.

This work was detailed online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.
http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/102/45/16507

*************************************************************

Questions to explore further this topic:

What are primates?

http://anthro.palomar.edu/primate/prim_1.htm
http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Anim.....efault.cfm

What distinguishes primates from other animals?

http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Anim.....efault.cfm

What are the different primates?

http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Anim.....fferences/

What are apes?

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/apes/

Is there a difference between monkeys and apes?

http://science.howstuffworks.com/question660.htm

Can monkeys count?

http://www.cnn.com/TECH/scienc.....g.monkeys/
http://www.sciencenews.org/art.....note14.asp
http://www.animalsentience.com/news/2005-08-19.htm
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/news/00/01/monkeys.html

Can other animals count?

http://www.sciencenewsforkids......ature1.asp


How well can you compare?


http://www.shodor.org/interact.....index.html

GAMES

http://primatecenter.duke.edu/.....Puzzle.swf
http://primatecenter.duke.edu/.....zzleBB.swf
http://primatecenter.duke.edu/.....eMaze2.swf
http://primatecenter.duke.edu/.....Search.swf
http://www.discoverchimpanzees.....d_game.php
http://www.discoverchimpanzees.....tching.php
http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Anim.....efault.cfm
http://www.monkeyworld.co.uk/t.....e=standard
http://anthro.palomar.edu/prim.....ord_1.html


Last edited by adedios on Sat Jan 27, 2007 3:52 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 7:08 am    Post subject: Humans Have A Strong Desire To Help Each Other Reply with quote

Source: Max Planck Society
Date: 2006-01-25
URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....082712.htm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Humans Have A Strong Desire To Help Each Other, But Is Spite Also Part Of The Human Condition?
In a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy (January 17, 2006), Keith Jensen and colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany looks at altruism and spite in our close cousin; the chimpanzee. In Jensen’s study, chimpanzees from the Wolfgang Koehler Primate Research Centre in Leipzig were given a choice; by pulling on a rope they could either deliver food to another chimpanzee or they could deliver it to an empty room. In both cases, the chimpanzee pulling the rope did not receive any food itself. Contrary to initial expectations the chimpanzees behaved neither altruistic nor spiteful. According to the researchers, both characteristics therefore seem to be human-specific.

An altruistic chimpanzee would give food to its neighbour, despite the effort in pulling the food, and a spiteful chimpanzee would prevent its neighbour from having the food by delivering it to the empty room.

‘I predicted chimps would be spiteful. I thought if they knew they couldn’t have the food, they wouldn’t let anyone else have it.’ Jensen found that half the time, the chimpanzees did nothing. A quarter of the time they delivered food to their neighbour, then a quarter of the time to the empty room. This demonstrated neither altruism nor spite.

‘They didn’t seem to care about the other guy one way or the other. All that concerned them was getting the food and they were completely focused on that. Even when they knew they couldn’t have the food, they didn’t help the other chimp but they weren’t spiteful either.’

In contrast, humans are obviously altruistic. We give blood, we donate money to charity, and we volunteer to help strangers. This kind of altruism has never been demonstrated in any other animal except for humans and some believe it is one of the characteristics that makes us human. But Jensen says spite is just as important. As a form of punishment, spite can encourage cooperative behaviour by penalising cheaters.

‘Punishing others is usually costly to yourself, whether that’s the taxpayer or the lawmakers but punishment is still a natural part of modern society. We punish theft, murder and countless other crimes to keep the fabric of society together. Perhaps human society is where it is today because spite exists and there is a mechanism to punish cheaters.’

If altruism and spite are unique to humans and are not present in chimpanzees, then it is likely that these characteristics have arisen in the last 6 million years since humans and chimpanzees shared a common ancestor. Humans’ intense regard for each other, either positive or negative, may have made an important contribution to our ability to cooperate, our sense of fairness, and the morality that defines today’s society.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 6:28 am    Post subject: The Primate Police: Monkey Cops Keep Groups in Line Reply with quote

The Primate Police: Monkey Cops Keep Groups in Line
By Bjorn Carey
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 26 January 2006
07:45 am ET

New research reveals that monkey cops help keep social groups in line.

Not having guns or nightsticks, they leverage their group seniority, craft intimidating reputations and count on good voter turnout.

Take the primate police out of a group, as researchers did, and the rest get more violent and aggressive. Interaction between cliques drops significantly.

"It's not just that violence goes up, but a whole range of behavior involving a whole range of individuals suddenly disappears," said David Krakauer of the Santa Fe Institute. "It's like saying you take police out of human society, and all of a sudden people stop going to the opera, or something more important."

The study, detailed in today's issue of the journal Nature, also uncovered a complex monkey "voting" system for appointing the peacekeepers.

Grin and ballot

Pigtailed macaque monkeys, Macaca nemestrina, don't just pull into town like Wyatt Earp or Dirty Harry and take over. They have to be "appointed" to the position.

Instead of a paper ballot, inferior monkeys bare their teeth to a more dominant member of the group.

"It's like they're saying, ‘You don't have to beat me up to establish your dominance, I'm simply telling you that you are,'" Krakauer told LiveScience.

When an individual receives these voting signals from most of the group, it shows he is well respected—or feared—and he becomes the new sheriff in town.

In general, the larger and more senior monkeys are voted into the policing role.

But having a gang to back you up counts for something, too. A single Schwarzenegger-like monkey may not receive as many "votes" from the group as a smaller individual with several brothers.

On the job

Once elected, police monkeys earn certain rights and responsibilities, one of which is to peacefully settles conflicts. They usually do this by stepping between combatants or chasing bad monkeys away. Very rarely do they need to dish out a whooping, but their actions are always respected by the group.

When Krakauer and his colleagues removed the police force—which in this case consisted of three males, but can also include females—they saw a drastic change in a once peaceful, interactive society.

The creatures split into cliques, mostly based on tight family relationships or friendships, and then interacted about as well as high school jocks and band geeks.

"The policers are indirectly providing the security needed for complex forms of social interaction to take place," Krakauer said. "The monkeys are afraid of approaching each other if the policers are not there to resolve a potential conflict."
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 11:45 am    Post subject: Case Closed: Apes Got Culture Reply with quote

Case Closed: Apes Got Culture
By Corey Binns
Special to LiveScience
posted: 28 February 2006
08:10 am ET



They may not take in the opera or sip fine wines, but the verdict is in: apes are cultured.

Fifty years of research on gorillas, chimps and orangutans has shown they use tools, communicate, and sometimes shake their hands just because it’s cool.

Ecologist Kinji Imanishi first introduced the concept of culture in a non-human species in 1952. He suggested that Japanese macaque populations develop behavioral differences as a result of social, rather than genetic, variation.

Since then, scientists have claimed that a wide range of species exhibit signs of culture, including rodents, birds, fish, marine mammals, and non-human primates. Of all the species studied to date, only humans exceed the level of cultural variation shown by chimps.

Solid evidence

Proving apes have culture hasn’t come quickly.

VIDEO
http://www.livescience.com/php.....imps_quest

Prominent researchers like Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey spent much of their time quietly observing animal behaviors. Yet studies accumulated from the 1980s and ’90s are patchy because many observations went unpublished.

But solid evidence has accumulated recently.

Last August, scientists confirmed culture in chimps in a study published in the journal Nature. They found chimps naturally copy their peers well into adulthood, suggesting they develop cultural behaviors by imitating each other.

“Ape cultures are real. I think it’s time to stop doubting that they exist,” said primatologist Carel van Schaik from the University of Zurich.

Van Schaik presented his findings on orangutan culture with Zoo Atlanta primatologist Tara Stoinski at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in St. Louis earlier this month.

Armed with previous field research, as well as new studies from wild orangutans and captive gorillas, researchers have more evidence to explain the variation and transmission of cultural behaviors in apes. Scientists are now focusing on the details of cultural behaviors and how apes adopt them as tradition.

Trends and tradition

Like us, apes are influenced by popular opinion. Scientists have observed cultural traditions that last for generations, and some that look more like short-term trends.

Traditions between groups vary, similar to human cultural differences. In West Africa, one group of orangutans living by a river pounds stones and branches to crack open nuts. Living just across the river are apes that, by chance, haven’t picked up the nut-cracking technique.

Cracking nuts is one of more than 40 behavior patterns scientists have observed that does not appear to have any genetic explanation.

Cultural behaviors stem from popularity, the environment the apes are in, and pure chance. So what makes one group more cultured than the next?

“The answer is very simple,” van Schaik told LiveScience. “How much there is to eat.”

Apes like being with other apes; orangutans will actually suppress aggression when in groups. Even bullies will chill out so they don’t pass up an opportunity to play with others.

Yet food shortages force individuals to spend lots of time foraging on their own. The less time an ape can spend with others, the fewer behaviors it can learn.

The size of the local cultural repertoire relates directly to the amount of time spent with other animals, van Schaik said.

Orangutans live in areas with less food than chimps, which explains why cultural behaviors in orangutans tend to be less elaborate than those of chimpanzees.

“We expect an animal to socialize if they can,” van Schaik said.

Zoo setting

In zoos, apes have access to all the food they need and plenty of socializing. But information collected from 25 captive gorilla groups by Stoinski and her Zoo Atlanta research team shows that the culture of healthy apes is not always equal.

The number of cultural behaviors varied dramatically between gorilla groups, even when animals lived at the same zoo.

The four groups of gorillas at Zoo Atlanta have four different kinds of behaviors. A female gorilla in one group, for example, will use a stick to probe for food that is out of her reach. The stick probing behavior was common in one group but rare or completely absent in the other three groups.

Some groups could have more traditions than others because they are more social, said Stoinski. When gorillas get along well, they’re more likely to learn from their fellow friends.

“As for why there are differences in the degree of 'culturalness' between groups, at this point we don't know, but my guess is that it is related to the degree of social cohesion, and thus opportunities for social learning, in the group,” Stoinski said.

Forming groups of captive gorillas that get along is a tricky business.

Often, zoos move individuals from one group to another to maintain genetic diversity among captive populations. Zookeepers act as genetic matchmakers, and cross their fingers that temperaments match, too.

“We try to take into account personality when we move gorillas within groups,” Stoinski said. “However, it’s not always possible. Some groups just gel better than others.”

Stoinski and her team will continue to research the variety of cultural behaviors with the four groups at Zoo Atlanta.

If she finds additional evidence that the more social groups have the most behaviors, “it very much supports the idea that social tolerance is an important facilitator of cultural transmission and thus culture.”
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 11:45 am    Post subject: Case Closed: Apes Got Culture Reply with quote

Case Closed: Apes Got Culture
By Corey Binns
Special to LiveScience
posted: 28 February 2006
08:10 am ET



They may not take in the opera or sip fine wines, but the verdict is in: apes are cultured.

Fifty years of research on gorillas, chimps and orangutans has shown they use tools, communicate, and sometimes shake their hands just because it’s cool.

Ecologist Kinji Imanishi first introduced the concept of culture in a non-human species in 1952. He suggested that Japanese macaque populations develop behavioral differences as a result of social, rather than genetic, variation.

Since then, scientists have claimed that a wide range of species exhibit signs of culture, including rodents, birds, fish, marine mammals, and non-human primates. Of all the species studied to date, only humans exceed the level of cultural variation shown by chimps.

Solid evidence

Proving apes have culture hasn’t come quickly.

VIDEO
http://www.livescience.com/php.....imps_quest

Prominent researchers like Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey spent much of their time quietly observing animal behaviors. Yet studies accumulated from the 1980s and ’90s are patchy because many observations went unpublished.

But solid evidence has accumulated recently.

Last August, scientists confirmed culture in chimps in a study published in the journal Nature. They found chimps naturally copy their peers well into adulthood, suggesting they develop cultural behaviors by imitating each other.

“Ape cultures are real. I think it’s time to stop doubting that they exist,” said primatologist Carel van Schaik from the University of Zurich.

Van Schaik presented his findings on orangutan culture with Zoo Atlanta primatologist Tara Stoinski at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in St. Louis earlier this month.

Armed with previous field research, as well as new studies from wild orangutans and captive gorillas, researchers have more evidence to explain the variation and transmission of cultural behaviors in apes. Scientists are now focusing on the details of cultural behaviors and how apes adopt them as tradition.

Trends and tradition

Like us, apes are influenced by popular opinion. Scientists have observed cultural traditions that last for generations, and some that look more like short-term trends.

Traditions between groups vary, similar to human cultural differences. In West Africa, one group of orangutans living by a river pounds stones and branches to crack open nuts. Living just across the river are apes that, by chance, haven’t picked up the nut-cracking technique.

Cracking nuts is one of more than 40 behavior patterns scientists have observed that does not appear to have any genetic explanation.

Cultural behaviors stem from popularity, the environment the apes are in, and pure chance. So what makes one group more cultured than the next?

“The answer is very simple,” van Schaik told LiveScience. “How much there is to eat.”

Apes like being with other apes; orangutans will actually suppress aggression when in groups. Even bullies will chill out so they don’t pass up an opportunity to play with others.

Yet food shortages force individuals to spend lots of time foraging on their own. The less time an ape can spend with others, the fewer behaviors it can learn.

The size of the local cultural repertoire relates directly to the amount of time spent with other animals, van Schaik said.

Orangutans live in areas with less food than chimps, which explains why cultural behaviors in orangutans tend to be less elaborate than those of chimpanzees.

“We expect an animal to socialize if they can,” van Schaik said.

Zoo setting

In zoos, apes have access to all the food they need and plenty of socializing. But information collected from 25 captive gorilla groups by Stoinski and her Zoo Atlanta research team shows that the culture of healthy apes is not always equal.

The number of cultural behaviors varied dramatically between gorilla groups, even when animals lived at the same zoo.

The four groups of gorillas at Zoo Atlanta have four different kinds of behaviors. A female gorilla in one group, for example, will use a stick to probe for food that is out of her reach. The stick probing behavior was common in one group but rare or completely absent in the other three groups.

Some groups could have more traditions than others because they are more social, said Stoinski. When gorillas get along well, they’re more likely to learn from their fellow friends.

“As for why there are differences in the degree of 'culturalness' between groups, at this point we don't know, but my guess is that it is related to the degree of social cohesion, and thus opportunities for social learning, in the group,” Stoinski said.

Forming groups of captive gorillas that get along is a tricky business.

Often, zoos move individuals from one group to another to maintain genetic diversity among captive populations. Zookeepers act as genetic matchmakers, and cross their fingers that temperaments match, too.

“We try to take into account personality when we move gorillas within groups,” Stoinski said. “However, it’s not always possible. Some groups just gel better than others.”

Stoinski and her team will continue to research the variety of cultural behaviors with the four groups at Zoo Atlanta.

If she finds additional evidence that the more social groups have the most behaviors, “it very much supports the idea that social tolerance is an important facilitator of cultural transmission and thus culture.”
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 11:30 am    Post subject: Chimpanzee cooperators Reply with quote

News B / 2006 ( 18 ) March 2nd, 2006
Max Planck Institute

Chimpanzee cooperators


Chimpanzees recognized when collaboration was necessary and chose the best collaborative partner


In the animal kingdom cooperation is crucial for survival. Predators hunt in prides and prey band together to protect themselves. Yet no other creature cooperates as successfully as we do. But where did this ability come from, and is it uniquely human? In a new study to be published in Science on 3 March 2006, Alicia Melis and co-authors from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany show that our close relatives, chimpanzees, are much better cooperators than we thought.

‘We’ve never seen this level of understanding during cooperation in any other animals except humans,’ says Melis. Cooperation happens all the time in the animal kingdom. A pride of lions cooperates to hunt down a gazelle. A herd of elephants band together to protect themselves from predators. But there may not be much thinking going on behind this kind of cooperation. It could be that by each animal wanting the same thing and working at the same time, success happens by accident.

In Melis’ study which took place at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda, not only did chimpanzees understand when they needed help, they understood their role, their partner’s role, and chose who they wanted to work with.

To reach a food tray, the chimpanzees had to pull two ends of a rope which dragged the tray towards them. Both rope ends had to be pulled at the same time or the rope was simply pulled out. Melis found that the chimpanzees only let a partner into the room (by opening their door) when the rope ends were too far apart to pull them on their own.

‘Not only did they need to know when they needed help, they had to go out and get it.’ Melis says. ‘Then they had to wait until their partner came in and pull on the rope at the same time. The chimps really had to understand why they needed their partner.’

Just like people, there were better cooperators than others. Mawa, the dominant chimpanzee, was not a very good cooperator. He didn’t wait for his partner and often pulled the rope from the tray. Bwambale, on the other hand, was a great cooperator. He always waited for his partner and was nearly always successful in getting the food. At first, the chimpanzees chose Mawa and Bwambale equally, but when the chimpanzees learned what a hopeless cooperator Mawa was, most chose Bwambale on the next trial.

Melis was excited by the results. ‘This is the first study that lets chimps choose who they want to cooperate with. We found that chimps choose a partner based on their effectiveness. Clearly, chimps can remember who’s a good and who’s a bad collaborator. Bad collaborators suffer by not being chosen next time.’

This complexity of cooperation means that humans and chimpanzees might have inherited our cooperative abilities from our common ancestor 6 million years ago. However, Melis is quick to draw the line between chimpanzee and human cooperation.

‘There is still no evidence that chimpanzees communicate with each other about a common goal like children do from a very early age. There’s also no evidence that chimpanzees can learn how good a partner is by watching them interact with others. It just suggests that when chimpanzees cooperate they understand a bit more than we thought. Hopefully, future studies can show us what it is that makes human cooperation so unique.’

Melis’ studies are among the first to be done in a chimpanzee sanctuary in Africa. ‘Sanctuaries are doing an incredible job saving chimps whose families were killed by the bush-meat trade. They also provide a wonderful service to us and the research community. Hopefully, as these and similar results become more widely known, it will raise awareness that these are intelligent animals who deserve respect and protection.’
[VW]

Original work:

Melis, A. P., Hare, B. & Tomasello, M.
Chimpanzees recruit the best collaborators
Science, vol. 313, March 3, 2006
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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2006 7:31 am    Post subject: New species of monkey discovered in Tanzania Reply with quote

Wildlife Conservation Society
11 May 2006


New species of monkey discovered in Tanzania is a new genus
First monkey genus in 83 years


NEW YORK (EMBARGOED: NOT FOR RELEASE UNTIL 2:00 P.M. EASTERN TIME THURSDAY, 11 MAY) – A new monkey species discovered last year by scientists with the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and other groups is now shown to be so unique, it requires a new genus – the first one for monkeys in 83 years, according to a study published in this week's Science. But conservationists warn that quick action is needed to protect the monkey's high-altitude forest home from illegal logging and hunting, or the species may soon vanish.
The monkey, first described by WCS scientists who found it in Tanzania last year, was initially believed to be related to mangabeys.

However, DNA work published in this recent study reveals that the species is truly unique, marking the first new genus for a living monkey species since Allen's swamp monkey in 1923. The new genus, Rungwecebus, (pronounced rung-way-CEE-bus) refers to Mt. Rungwe, where the monkey was first observed. Perhaps 500 remain in the wild.

"The discovery of a new primate species is an amazing event, but the discovery of a new genus makes this animal a true conservation celebrity," said lead author of the study, Dr. Tim Davenport of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "The scientific community has been waiting for eight decades for this to happen, and now we must we move fast to protect it."

The monkey, known locally as a "kipunji" (pronounced kip-oon-jee) is restricted to the Highlands region of Tanzania, an area severely threatened by logging, according to Davenport. To save this unique landscape, WCS is calling for action from the world community to protect this region from further degradation. WCS has also set up a website dedicated to the protection of the species: www.kipunji.org

"It would be the ultimate irony to lose a species this unique so soon after we have discovered it," said noted primatologist Dr. John G. Robinson director of WCS's International Programs. "This is a world treasure and as such, we urge the world community to protect it."

The monkey is brown, with a long, erect crest of hair on its head, elongated cheek whiskers, an off-white belly and tail, and an unusual call, termed a 'honk-bark' by the scientists who first described it. It stands about 3 feet tall (90 cm). The monkeys occur as high as 8,000 ft (2450 m) where temperatures frequently drop below freezing; its long coat is probably an adaptation to the cold. Co-authors of the study include scientists from the Field Museum, Yale University and the University of Alaska Museum.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 7:05 am    Post subject: Diet Linked to Brain Size in Primates Reply with quote

Diet Linked to Brain Size in Primates

By Sara Goudarzi
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 24 October 2006
05:18 pm ET

Brain tissue is expensive for a body to produce, so when times are tough, some primates go with a smaller noodle, a new study suggests.

Scientists compared orangutans living on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. The subspecies Pongo pygmaeus morio, living in northeastern part of Borneo where food supplies were limited, had a smaller brain.

“I think we are the first people to have demonstrated this in primates,” said lead author Andrea Taylor of Duke University.

The finding suggests that this type of selection could result in smaller brain size in humans as well.

For the full article:

http://www.livescience.com/ani....._diet.html
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 8:51 am    Post subject: The Littlest Lemurs Reply with quote

The Littlest Lemurs
Emily Sohn
Jan. 3, 2007

Ziggy is not amused.
The tiny creature has already been trapped in a box and hauled through the rainforest. Some of his hair has been clipped. Now, he crouches on the floor of a cage, while three pairs of human eyes stare at him. One of those pairs is mine.

"He's so cute!" I say. But wide-eyed Ziggy clearly doesn't feel the same way about me. Still, he stares right back.

Ziggy is a mouse lemur, one of the smallest primates in the world. He's related to monkeys, gorillas, and humans, but he looks like a hamster. Weighing just 52 grams (1.8 ounces), he's actually heavier than the average mouse lemur.

For the full article:

http://www.sciencenewsforkids......ature1.asp
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 6:28 pm    Post subject: Two Skeletons Push Primates Closer to Dinosaur Era Reply with quote

Two Skeletons Push Primates Closer to Dinosaur Era

By Andrea Thompson
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 05 February 2007
11:49 am ET

Two newly reported complete skeletons of primates show that this group that includes humans' closest relatives such as chimps and lemurs is 10 million years older than scientists previously thought, pushing our earliest ancestors even closer to the Age of Dinosaurs.

This discovery, the most primitive known skeleton of a primate, extends the primate record by a big chunk of geologic time and changes the prevailing view of how primate traits evolved.

“It’s sort of a window into what the earliest primates would have looked like,” said study author Jonathan Bloch of the Florida Museum of Natural History.

For the full article:

http://www.livescience.com/ani.....imate.html
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 7:50 am    Post subject: The Chimpanzee Stone Age Reply with quote

February 13th, 2007
Max Planck Society

The Chimpanzee Stone Age

West African chimpanzees have been cracking nuts with stone tools for thousands of years

Researchers have found evidence that chimpanzees from West Africa were cracking nuts with stone tools before the advent of agriculture, thousands of years ago. The result suggests chimpanzees developed this behaviour on their own, or even that stone tool use was a trait inherited from our common ancestor. Julio Mercader, Christophe Boesch and colleagues found the stones at the Noulo site in Côte d’Ivoire, the only known prehistoric chimpanzee settlement. The stones they excavated show the hallmarks of use as tools for smashing nuts when compared to ancient human or modern chimpanzee stone tools. Also, they found several types of starch grains on the stones; part of the residue derived from cracking local nuts. The tools are 4300 years old, which, in human terms, corresponds to the Later Stone Age (PNAS, February 2007).

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http://www.mpg.de/english/illu.....e20070207/
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 9:10 am    Post subject: Chimpanzees found to use tools to hunt mammalian prey Reply with quote

Cell Press
22 February 2007

Chimpanzees found to use tools to hunt mammalian prey

Reporting findings that help shape our understanding of how tool use has evolved among primates, researchers have discovered evidence that chimpanzees, at least under some conditions, are capable of habitually fashioning and using tools to hunt mammalian prey. The work, reported by Jill Pruetz of Iowa State University and Paco Bertolani of the University of Cambridge, will appear online in the journal Current Biology on February 22nd.

Chimpanzees are well known for their ingenuity in using tools for some tasks, such as obtaining invertebrate insects from logs or pounding open hard nuts, but there had been only fleeting evidence of chimpanzees brandishing tools for bona fide hunting.

In the new work, researchers observed tool use in hunting by the Fongoli community of savanna-dwelling chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) in southeastern Senegal. Chimpanzees were observed making spear-like tools in a step-wise fashion, and subsequently using them with jabbing motions in an apparent effort to obtain lesser bushbabies (Galago senegalensis) from cavities in hollow branches or tree trunks. Bushbabies are nocturnal prosimians that retire to such hidden cavities during the day.

Although there was only one successful attempt in 22 recorded instances of the chimpanzees using the spear-like tools to find and obtain prey, the researchers observed that tool-crafting and associated hunting behavior was systematic and consistent, suggesting that it was habitual. The hunting behavior included forceful jabbing motions into branch or trunk hollows, and chimpanzees were seen to subsequently open the hollows by breaking wood off from a distance, suggesting that the jabbing actions were intended to immobilize bushbabies, rather than rouse them from their cavities (bushbabies move quickly and might otherwise easily evade chimpanzees once roused).

Two notable aspects of the behavior observed in the Fongoli group were that on the one hand, it is rare for chimpanzees to consume prosimian prey—in other study sites, red colobus monkeys, hunted mainly by males, are the chimps’ most common prey—and on the other hand, the tool use appeared to be primarily restricted to females and immature individuals. These two behavior characteristics could both be related to the fact that the Fongoli community inhabits a mosaic savannah that is relatively dry, and where red colobus monkeys are absent. This habitat may promote efforts—such as the observed tool use—to obtain meat through other means. The authors point out that the females and immature chimpanzees using the spear-like tools appear to be exploiting a niche relatively ignored by males, an observation that supports a previous hypothesis that female hominids played a role in the evolution of the earliest tool technology and suggests that this technology may have included tools for hunting.

###
The researchers include Jill D. Pruetz of Iowa State University in Ames, IA; Paco Bertolani of University of Cambridge in Cambridge, UK.

J.P. was supported by grants from the National Geographic Society, Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University (ISU), ISU Foreign Travel Grant, ISU Faculty Professional Development Grant, and the American Society of Primatologists Conservation Grant during the study period.

Pruetz et al.: “Savanna Chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes verus, Hunt with Tools.” Publishing in Current Biology 17, March 6, 2007. www.current-biology.com
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2007 8:07 am    Post subject: Chimpanzee Hunting Tools Reply with quote

Chimpanzee Hunting Tools
Emily Sohn

March 7, 2007

Pictures of our ancestors often show men hunting with spears, arrows, and other tools. Scientists have long thought that only humans made tools for the hunt. They've also assumed that men did most of the hunting.
Now, for the first time, scientists have observed wild chimpanzees hunting with tools. What is just as surprising, females and young chimps outnumber males in these hunts. The discovery throws into question many assumptions about human evolution.

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http://www.sciencenewsforkids....../Note2.asp
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 2:32 pm    Post subject: New evidence of “human” culture among primates Reply with quote

New evidence of “human” culture among primates
23 March 2007
University of Cambridge

Research suggests that stone-banging by South American monkeys could be a socially-learned skill

Fresh evidence that suggests monkeys can learn skills from each other, in the same manner as humans, has been uncovered by a University of Cambridge researcher.

Dr Antonio Moura, a Brazilian researcher from the Department of Biological Anthropology, has discovered signs that Capuchin monkeys in Brazil bang stones as a signalling device to ward off potential predators.

While not conclusive, his research adds to a mounting body of evidence that suggests other species have something approaching human culture. A strong case has already been made for great apes having a capacity for social learning, but until now there has been no evidence of material culture among the “new world” primates of Central or South America, which include Capuchins.

Dr Moura carried out his research in the Serra da Capivara National Park, in the Piaui state of north-east Brazil, during which he observed bouts of stone-banging, primarily among a group of 10 monkeys. As he approached, the monkeys would first search for a suitable loose stone, then hit it on a rock surface several times.

The act was apparently an aggressive one, directed at Dr Moura as a potential predator, but as the group became used to his presence in the area the stone-banging decreased. Furthermore, in a large minority of cases, adults and juvenile monkeys were seen banging the stones together without paying him any attention at all – suggesting that the younger monkeys were learning the skill from their more experienced elders. Captive monkeys released into the area that joined the study group also appeared to be learning to bang stones from the others.

Dr Moura describes the act of stone-banging as “a remarkable and novel” behaviour which has yet to be observed in any other non-human primate species. But the real significance of his research is that it suggests an element of human-like culture within this family of Capuchins.

Biological anthropologists are divided over whether other species indeed have the capacity to acquire skills by social learning, or whether the different skill sets exhibited by different groups of the same species are a result of environmental influences.

In this case Dr Moura could find no environmentally-inspired cause for the Capuchins acquiring this skill, suggesting that they had indeed learned it by observing and replicating one another. “One of the most interesting things is that they make a noise to scare off predators,” he said. “They would seem to be communicating the danger to one another at the same time.

“We already know that these monkey populations use stones as tools to dig holes or to forage and questions remain about why this happens in this area. Because it is quite dry and barren, it is possible they learn these skills from one another because they have to develop them quickly. To be sure we would need to research more.”

As well as using the noise to deter predators, Dr Moura also reports that in many cases the act of stone-banging, which often took place on higher ground, dislodged other stones that could hit the predator below.

The main function of the act would appear to be that of a “loudspeaker”, however. Partly, this is to advise the predator that it has been spotted. But Dr Moura also speculates that because the Capuchins spread out widely in the dry forested areas of north-east Brazil when they forage, the noise could be an alarm-call.

In addition, the use of stones provides biological anthropologists with a rare and highly-prized example of primates using stone technology, adding to the archaeological record of primate behaviour. Most items used by primates in cases where they may be exhibiting socially-learned skills are perishable.

The simple example of percussive stone technology uncovered by Dr Moura adds to other types of stone technology already known. For example, new world capuchin monkeys use stones in the same way as we might use a hammer and anvil to crack nuts. Similar evidence of stone-based technology is found in the archaeological record of the earliest humans, and as more evidence emerges, it is hoped the ancient ancestry of human behaviour will become clear.

Notes for Editors:

Dr Moura's study was carried out in the Caatinga forest of Serra da Capivara National Park in the Piaui state of north-east Brazil.

Banging objects is an innate behaviour in Capuchin monkeys, but in all wild groups observed before this research the behaviour had only happened in a foraging context. Banging stones is an entirely new variant.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 8:41 am    Post subject: Chimps Spotted Using Caves, Like Early Humans Reply with quote

Chimps Spotted Using Caves, Like Early Humans

By Charles Q. Choi
Special to LiveScience
posted: 11 April 2007
09:22 am ET

Savannah chimpanzees, which can make weapons to hunt other primates for meat, can also seek refuge in caves, much like our earliest human ancestors.

New findings suggest the chimps apparently shelter themselves in caves to hide from the extreme African heat. The cave use was documented by visual observations and photographs.

Primatologist Jill Pruetz at Iowa State University in Ames and her colleagues research savannah chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus). These dwell in environs much like those from which humanity's ancestors are believed to have emerged.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani....._cave.html
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:54 am    Post subject: Monkey DNA Points to Common Human Ancestor Reply with quote

Monkey DNA Points to Common Human Ancestor

By Charles Q. Choi
Special to LiveScience
posted: 12 April 2007
02:01 pm ET

The first primate to get rocketed into space and to be cloned, the rhesus monkey, has now had its genome sequenced, promising to improve research into health and yield insights into human evolution.

Analysis of the monkey's DNA sequence has also deepened a few mysteries in our understanding of the biology of primates when it comes to vital parts of our biology, such as the X chromosome.

Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) are sandy-furred, pink-faced monkeys that live in the region ranging from Afghanistan to northern India, as well as southern China, and are traditionally held as sacred in Hinduism.

They have a long history as lab monkeys. For instance, the Rh factor in blood discovered in 1937, the presence or absence of which dubs a person's blood type either 'positive' or 'negative,' derives its name from rhesus monkeys. Even now, they are the animals of choice for research into drug addiction and HIV, and roughly two-thirds of all National Institutes of Health-funded primate-related studies use the monkeys. For example, the rhesus monkey Tetra, born in 2000, was the first cloned primate.

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http://www.livescience.com/hum.....nkeys.html
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:22 pm    Post subject: Chimps More Evolved Than Humans Reply with quote

Chimps More Evolved Than Humans

By Jeanna Bryner
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 17 April 2007
09:36 am ET


Since the human-chimp split about 6 million years ago, chimpanzee genes can be said to have evolved more than human genes, a new study suggests.

The results, detailed online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, contradict the conventional wisdom that humans are the result of a high degree of genetic selection, evidenced by our relatively large brains, cognitive abilities and bi-pedalism.

Jianzhi Zhang of the University of Michigan and his colleagues analyzed strings of DNA from nearly 14,000 protein-coding genes shared by chimps and humans. They looked for differences gene by gene and whether they caused changes in the generated proteins.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....volve.html
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2007 10:03 am    Post subject: Monkeys' ability to reflect on their thoughts may have impli Reply with quote

Association for Psychological Science
20 April 2007

Monkeys' ability to reflect on their thoughts may have implications for infants, autistic children

New research from Columbia's Primate Cognition Laboratory has demonstrated for the first time that monkeys could acquire meta-cognitive skills: the ability to reflect about their thoughts and to assess their performance.

The study was a collaborative effort between Herbert Terrace, Columbia professor of psychology & psychiatry, and director of its Primate Cognition Laboratory, and two graduate students, Lisa Son — now professor of psychology at Barnard College — and UCLA postdoctoral researcher Nate Kornell.

The study, which appears in the January issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, was designed to show that a monkey could express its confidence in its answers to multiple-choice questions about its memory based on the amount of imaginary currency it was willing to wager. Their experiment was derived from the observation that children often make pretend bets to assert that they know the answer to some question. According to Son, "the ability to reflect on one's knowledge has always been thought of as exclusively human. We designed a task to determine if a non-human primate could similarly learn to express its confidence about its knowledge by making large or small wagers."

In the experiment, two monkeys were trained to play a video game that would test their ability to remember a particular photograph while also allowing them to make a large or a small bet. Ultimately, this wager would reflect the monkey's perception of their memory accuracy.

The test used touch-screen technology and a multiple-choice format. Six novel photographs were presented at the beginning of each trial, one at a time. One photograph was selected at random and then displayed simultaneously with 8 novel photographs. The monkey's task was to select the photograph that appeared at the beginning of the trial. The monkey then evaluated the accuracy of its choice by selecting a high and a low-risk icon presented on the screen. It earned a large reward if it selected the high-risk icon after a correct response (3 tokens dropped into a bank displayed on the video monitor).

Choosing the high-risk icon following an incorrect response resulted in the loss of 3 tokens. Low risk bets were always followed by a small reward (a gain of 1 token). When the monkey accumulated enough tokens, it was rewarded with food. The results demonstrated that with the monkeys, there was a strong correlation between high-risk bets and correct responses and between low-risk bets and incorrect responses.

Terrace argues that, "the pattern of the monkeys' bets provided clear evidence of their ability to engage in meta-cognition, an ability that is all the more remarkable because monkeys lack language." But the results may have further reaching implications as well. Terrace notes "our results are of general interest because non-verbal tests of the type used in this and other experiments on animal cognition can be adapted to study cognitive abilities of infants and autistic children."


###
Psychological Science is ranked among the top 10 general psychology journals for impact by the Institute for Scientific Information.

The Primate Cognition Laboratory at Columbia focuses on complex sequential learning that can be explained by the principles of conditioning theory and that which requires language. For more information, go to http://www.columbia.edu/cu/psy.....nitionlab/
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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2007 8:01 am    Post subject: Apes Point to Origins of Human Language Reply with quote

Apes Point to Origins of Human Language

By Ker Than
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 30 April 2007
05:00 pm ET

Our closest primate relatives, the bonobos and chimps, are more versatile when communicating with their hands, feet and limbs than with their facial expressions and voices.

The finding, detailed in the April 30 issue of the journal for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, supports the notion that humans were communicating with sign language long before they were speaking, an idea known as the “gestural hypothesis.”

Researchers at Emory University studying two groups of chimpanzees (34 animals) and two groups of bonobos (13 animals) observed 31 manual gestures and 18 facial/vocal signals. They found both species make similar use of facial/vocal signals, but manual gestures were more varied, both within and between species.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....tures.html
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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 8:07 am    Post subject: Talk to the Hand: Language might have evolved from gestures Reply with quote

Week of May 5, 2007; Vol. 171, No. 18 , p. 275

Talk to the Hand: Language might have evolved from gestures
Patrick L. Barry

Chimpanzees and bonobos can communicate with greater flexibility using hand gestures than they can with facial expressions or vocalizations, new research shows. Their use of hand motions to convey different meanings in different circumstances suggests that gestures may have played an important part in the evolution of language.

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http://sciencenews.org/articles/20070505/fob2.asp
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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 9:13 am    Post subject: Human Ancestor Had a Pea Brain Reply with quote

Human Ancestor Had a Pea Brain
By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 14 May 2007 06:03 pm ET

Higher primates such as humans are considered the brainiacs of the mammalian world. But a 29-million-year-old fossilized skull suggests that one of our remote ancestors was a bit of a "pea brain," sporting a noggin smaller than that of a modern lemur.

The skull belonged to a common ancestor of humans, monkeys and apes.

"This means the big-brained monkeys and apes developed their large brains at a later point in time," said lead study author Elwyn Simons, a Duke University primatologist.

Until now, scientists had assumed brain size was a key feature that defined higher primates, a category that includes humans, monkeys and apes. The larger brain relative to body size also has provided paleoanthropologists with a physical marker for the evolutionary distinction between higher and lower primates, which include lemurs of Madagascar.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....brain.html
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 9:39 am    Post subject: Human ancestors learnt to walk upright in the trees, say exp Reply with quote

University of Liverpool
1 June 2007

Human ancestors learnt to walk upright in the trees, say experts

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that humans' ability to walk upright developed from ancestors foraging for food in forest tree tops and not from walking on all fours on open land
Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that humans’ ability to walk upright developed from ancestors foraging for food in forest tree tops and not from walking on all fours on open land.

It was traditionally thought that humans became upright walkers in a slow process which had its origins in ‘knuckle-walking’ – movement on all fours – just as chimpanzees and gorillas walk today. It was believed that this developed once human ancestors moved out of the forests into the savannahs of East Africa.

Study at the University of Liverpool, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, into the behaviour of the orang-utan, has now suggests that knuckle-walking evolved quite recently in chimpanzees and gorillas, as a way of moving on the forest floor, whilst walking on two legs – assisted by the support of tree branches – is an older trait and evolved from tree walking. The study suggests that walking on two legs was always a feature of great-ape behaviour and human ancestors never passed through a knuckle-walking phase.

Skeletons of early human ancestors show a combination of short legs and long arms, which are adaptations for moving amongst tree tops, with hindlimbs adapted for walking on two legs. To understand why bipedalism – walking on two legs – would be necessary for the tree-living ancestors of humans, scientists studied the movement of the only completely arboreal great ape, the Sumatran orang-utan. It appears that they use bipedalism to forage for food from small branches of tree tops, and to cross directly from tree top to tree top.

Professor Robin Crompton explains: “We found that orang-utans walking bipedally on springy branches act much like athletes running on springy tracks; they use extended postures of knee and hip to give them straighter legs. Other recent work by the team shows that orang-utans use the natural springiness of branches to save energy in movement, especially when crossing from one tree to another, and this may also be the case when they move bipedally in small branches.

“Walking upright on two legs, gripping branches with the feet and balancing themselves by holding or touching higher branches with their hands is actually a very effective way of moving on smaller branches. It helps to explain how early human ancestors learnt to walk upright whilst living in the trees and how they would have used this way of movement when they left the trees for a life on the ground.

“The traditional theory of human origins states that we evolved to walk upright from ancestors who walked on all fours when on the forest floor. This new study suggests the opposite. Upright walking evolved in the ancestors of all apes, including humans, as a means of foraging for food in the small branches of the tropical forests and these techniques were later used by human ancestors to allow them to adapt to walking on two feet on the ground.

“Around 15 million years ago the tropical forests which once covered East Africa began to break up, and although the forest sometimes grew back temporarily, eventually trees became separated and further apart, preventing our ape ancestors from swinging from one tree to the next. This forced them to go down to the ground in order to move between trees.

“Our ancestors made use of the way they moved through the trees to adapt to their life on the ground. Ancestors of chimps and gorillas, however, tried to maintain access to the canopy as well as the ground by developing very strong arms to climb vertically up and down tree-trunks and as a consequence became ‘top-heavy’. When they are on the ground, therefore, they move predominantly by knuckle-walking, propping themselves on their long, heavy forelimbs.”


###
The research is published in Science.

Notes to editors

1. The University of Liverpool is one of the UK's leading research institutions. It attracts collaborative and contract research commissions from a wide range of national and international organisations valued at more than £100 million annually.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 7:52 am    Post subject: A Big Discovery about Little People Reply with quote

A Big Discovery about Little People
Emily Sohn

June 6, 2007

Long ago, many species of humanlike creatures shared space on Earth. These different types of humans walked upright and had intelligent minds. At some point, however, all but one of those species went extinct. We, members of the species Homo sapiens (H. sapiens), were the sole survivors.
For years, scientists thought they knew when H. sapiens became the only kind of human species in existence. The scientists thought that the big change happened about 24,000 years ago, with the extinction of the Neandertals (Homo neanderthalensis).

Recently, however, scientists have found evidence of a previously undiscovered species of humans. The scientists made the find on the island of Flores in Indonesia.

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http://www.sciencenewsforkids......ature1.asp
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 9:38 am    Post subject: Chimps Pass On Culture Like Humans Do Reply with quote

Chimps Pass On Culture Like Humans Do
By Charles Q. Choi, Special to LiveScience

posted: 08 June 2007 8:35 am ET

Chimpanzees readily learn and share techniques on how to fiddle with gadgets, new research shows, the best evidence yet that our closest living relatives pass on customs and culture just as humans do.

The new findings help shed light on the capabilities of last common ancestor of humans and chimps. And the research could also help develop better robots and artificial intelligences, the researchers say

In the wild, chimpanzee troops are often distinct from one another, possessing collections of up to 20 traditions or customary behaviors that altogether seem to form unique cultures. Such practices include various forms of tool use, including hammers and pestles; courtship rituals such as leaf-clipping, where leaves are clipped noisily with the teeth; social behaviors such as overhead hand-clasping during mutual grooming; and methods for eradicating parasites by either stabbing or squashing them.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....lture.html
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:04 am    Post subject: Human Nature Rubs Off on Chimps Reply with quote

Human Nature Rubs Off on Chimps
By Charles Q. Choi, Special to LiveScience

posted: 18 June 2007 08:55 am ET

A bit of human nature can apparently rub off on chimpanzees. Chimps nurtured by humans since birth have a far better chance of figuring out how to use new tools, a new study shows.

The findings highlight untapped potential within chimpanzees that can get uncovered "by studying them when they have been raised under very comparable conditions as our own children," said Ohio State University cognitive primatologist Sally Boysen.

The research suggests that early human ancestors may have been far more sophisticated in their mental capacities than previously thought, she added.

"The emergence of higher order thinking, as well as motor skills that would permit complex tool use and construction and other cultural features of human social interaction, may have been part of our human ancestry much earlier than otherwise predicted by the fossil record of artifacts and human remains," Boysen told LiveScience.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....himps.html
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