Primate News of the Week

Researchers argue publicly on how well monkeys could talk if their brains were able

Source: Science Advances
Summary: Two researchers attempting to understand why monkeys cannot speak have publicly argued in the journal science reports. These arguments stemmed from from research by Philip Lieberman several years ago in which he suggested that monkeys could not speak because they lack vocal abilities rather than brain wiring. Lieberman’s conclusions were based on experiments with rhesus macaques. However in 2016, Tecumseh Fitch published in article that suggested some monkeys do have the vocal ability. This is based upon experiments with Xrays with rhesus macaques that suggests that monkeys could make word sounds and although limited they did have some vocal ability. Both Fitch and Lieberman have argued over whether the monkey has the ability for speech through comments posted in Science Advance. Most recently they argued over the long E use causing further argument.
Read more via
Journal reference to comments posted by Lieberman and Fitch
Philip Lieberman. Comment on “Monkey vocal tracts are speech-ready”, Science Advances (2017). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700442
W. Tecumseh Fitch et al. Response to Lieberman on “Monkey vocal tracts are speech-ready”, Science Advances (2017). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701859

In fathering, peace-loving bonobos don’t spread the love

Source: Current Biology
Summary: In a study of 24 bonobo offspring, in Democratic Republic of Congo, born/conceived during a long term study (2002-2013) paternity was studied in order to ascertain the difference between bonobos and chimp communities. Bonobos are quite different from chimps and are characterized by female choice and male and female bonobos. Based upon this researchers from Arizona State University hypothesized a balance distribution of paternity. But this did not occur, rather there was a reproductive skew of one male over several males. One bonobo male had more than 60 percent of the offspring. Researchers suggested female choice may be a factor or the larger groups of the bonobos that may restrict lower ranking males from sneaking off with females. Female choice may allow females to choice higher ranking males. Within chimp groups all males outrank females and thus males can coerce females into mating, this differs from the bonobos in which some females out rank males.
Read more via
Journal reference: Current Biology, Surbeck and Langergraber et al.: “Male reproductive skew is higher in bonobos than chimpanzees” , DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.05.039


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