Primate News of the Week

  • Orangutan’s Vocal Feats Hint at Deeper Roots of Human Speech
    • rocky_mark-kaser_custom-5365788f63db5c176e05995ae1f38c40459e6380-s800-c85.jpg
    • Summary: Work with a captive orangutan at the Indianapolis, Zoos have helped to understand the first utterance of words by early humans. Rocky is 12 years old that has the ability to learn new vocal sounds, matching the pitch made by humans This research has been suggested to show human ancestors may have begun talking 10 million years ago. This marks the time of when apes and human diverged. This counters what many scientists suggest is the evolution of speech. They suggest it occurred 2 million years ago was when the brain and vocal apparatus evolved in order to allow speech.
    • Read more via NPR/listen to Rocky speak
  • Chimp filmed cleaning dead son’s teeth
    • chimpfilmedc.jpg
    • Via Scientific Report
      • Edwin J. C. van Leeuwen et al. Tool use for corpse cleaning in chimpanzees, Scientific Reports (2017).
    • Summary: Researchers from the U.K., the Netherlands and U.S. filmed a female chimpanzee cleaning her son’s teeth. Chimps will clean each other’s teeth for hygienic reasons, and also as a bonding ritual. Chimps have also been seen to groom dead chimps, however this this is the first time that chimps have been seen to be cleaning a dead relative’s teeth. This was filmed at the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust in Zambia. The male that had dead had been orphaned but adopted by an older female.
    • Read more via Phys
    • DOI: 10.1038/srep44091
  • Wild Chimpanzees have surprisingly long life span
    • yaleledstudy.jpg
    • Via Journal of Human Evolution
    • Summary: A study at a chimpanzee community in Uganda shows that with the right ecological condition chimps have a longer life span than expected. On average the life expectancy of about 33 years from a sample of 3 This life expectancy is nearly twice those of other chimpanzee communities and matches the life expectancy of many hunter-gatherers.
    • Read more via Phys
    • DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.01.003
  • Hug-loving’ hippie monkeys left alone in forest as epidemic kills other primates
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    • Via Seeker
    • Summary: Northern muriquis monkeys of Brazil (hippie primates) are vegetarians and appear to be peaceful and egalitarian, hence the name. They are often found in Brazil with howler monkeys however due to a yellow fever epidemic thousands of howler monkeys have died. Although it has a short-term benefit to the muriquis monkeys it could have long-term losses, howler monkeys are important seed dispersals in the rainforest and could result in changes in the forest composition.
    • Read more via Seeker
    • Bigger brain help social primates to make up after a fight, study finds
      • biggerbrains.jpg
      • Via Journal of Behavioral Ecology
      • Summary: Primates specifically social primates with bigger brains often use their big brains for conflict coping. A recent study within the University of Manchester under Veronica Cowl has suggested that social skills developed to help cope with aggression and competition that occurs within large groups. This study considered the association of brain size and group size through studying chacma baboons, black and white ruffed lemurs and capuchins. They found an increased brain size correlated with high levels of competition.
      • Read more via Phys
      • DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arx041
    • Eating fruit may have given primates their big brains, paving the way for social structure
      • 9359608195_234686a007_b.jpg
      • Via Nature Ecology and Evolution
      • Summary: Primates have large brains that allow them to have a complex social life as well as a way to defend themselves from predators. But where did this brain come from? A prevailing theory is primates developed large brains because they don’t have claws or horns and thus they lived in big groups to live in big groups you need a big brain for keeping track of all the social interactions. However, Alex DeCasien has a different explanation and it is fruit! She based this on data on both the social life and diets of 140 species that included monkeys, apes, lorises and lemurs. She found that brain size could not be predicted by social group, social complexity or group size but rather if the diet was fruit based or leaf based. Fruit that may have help make a better brain because it was a better food.
      • Read more via ZME SCIENCE
      • DOI:10.1038/s41559-017-0112

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