Five new saki monkey species discovered in Amazon


This video is called Amazon Brasil: Macaco parauacu (Guianan Saki Monkey).

From Wildlife Extra:

Five new Amazonian saki monkey species discovered

A 10 year study of the saki monkey has revealed the existence of five new monkeys, bringing the total number of different saki species to 16.

“I began to suspect there might be more species of saki monkeys when I was doing field research in Ecuador,” said lead author Dr Laura K. Marsh, primate ecologist and director of the Global Conservation Institute.

“The more I saw, the more I realised that scientists had been confused in their evaluation of the diversity of sakis for over two centuries.”

Saki monkeys are a secretive group of primates native to the tropical forests of South America. They are often hunted for food, even though their elusive behaviour makes them difficult to find. The five new species are found in Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia – three of them are endemic to Brazil and one to Peru.

This revision increases the number of primates in Brazil to 145; the highest diversity for any single nation.

Primates are major components of tropical rain forest systems, and are of great importance as seed dispersers, predators, and sometimes even as prey.

“Besides being vital for their conservation and survival, the revised scientific description of these sakis is a major step in our understanding of primate diversity in Amazonia and worldwide,” said Dr Anthony B. Rylands, Senior Researcher at Conservation International and Deputy-Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Primate Specialist Group, after whom one of the new species, Rylands’ bald-faced saki (Pithecia rylandsi), was named.

The others include Cazuza’s saki (Pithecia cazuzai), Mittermeier’s Tapajós saki (Pithecia mittermeieri), Pissinatti’s bald-faced saki (Pithecia pissinattii) and Isabel’s saki (Pithecia isabela).

“Saki monkeys, like many rain forest primates, are excellent indicators for the health of tropical forest systems,” said Dr. Russell A. Mittermeier, President of Conservation International and Chair of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group.

“This revision of the genus shows clearly how little we still know about the diversity of the natural world that surrounds us and upon which we ourselves depend so much.”

See also here.

The scientific description of these new speciew is here.

Animals closer to human speech than thought


This video from North America says about itself:

Black-Capped Chickadee Vocalizations – Did You Know?

19 April 2014

The “Chickadee dee dee” call by Black-capped chickadees is one of the most complex vocalizations in the animal kingdom and is said to be language -like. This call is used in many social interactions such as, contacting members of the flock, or giving information about an individual’s identity, other slight changes in the phrase of this call can relay other specific messages.

Who’s who?: How chickadees figure out dominance hierarchies through song: here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Animal noises ‘more closely linked’ with human speech

Tuesday 19th August 2014

ANIMAL vocalisations have more in common with human speech than previously thought, scientists claimed today.

Research published by the Royal Society in its Proceedings B biological science journal suggests there may be a missing link between sounds animals use to communicate and the more complex linguistic abilities of humans.

“Language is the biggest difference that separates humans from animals evolutionarily, but multiple studies are finding more and more stepping stones that seem to bridge the gap,” said lead scientist Dr Arik Kershenbaum of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis in Tennessee, US.

“Uncovering the process underlying vocal sequence generation in animals may be critical to our understanding of the origin of language.”

It has long been recognised that some species of animals possess distinct vocabularies.

Some monkeys have a range of cries distinguishing between threats, which is useful since the evasive action appropriate for a snake attack is different from that for a bird of prey.

But linguists have so far held that animals lack the ability to use grammar to change or extend the meanings of individual sounds by reordering them.

Their vocalisations were believed to follow a structural system known as the Markov process, where sound sequences could easily be predicted by listening to a finite number of preceding elements.

The new study sought evidence of Markovian dynamics in seven species — chickadees, finches, bats, orang-utans, killer whales, pilot whales and hyraxes — yet failed to find it.

The sounds produced fitted statistical models for human language instead, the scientists concluded.

‘Monkeys use researchers as human shields’


This video is called Samango monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis).

From Science:

28 July 2014

Monkeys use researchers as human shields

A team of researchers in South Africa believes monkeys may be using their presence to guard against predators, according to a paper published online earlier this month in Behavioral Ecology.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

The samango monkeys of South Africa usually have a good reason not to stray too far from the forest. Although they spend much of their time loping through the trees they know to keep within a certain range: climb too high and they’re targets for eagles, too low and they could be a big cat‘s lunch.

However, it seems there is an exception to this behaviour – and that’s when people are around. A new study from the journal of Behavioural Ecology reports that samango monkeys under observation by scientists use the researchers as “human shields”, counting on their presence to avoid being picked off by a leopard.

Howler monkeys and least grebes in Costa Rica


This video from Panama is called The Mantled Howler Monkey of Central America.

23 March 2014 in Costa Rica.

After yesterday, still near the Rio Tempisque.

A mantled howler monkey family with a youngster in the trees, early in the morning.

Four black-necked stilts near the lakelet. They drink.

Two least grebes swim.

A bare-throated tiger heron.

A flock of black vultures.

Near the next lakelet, a green heron on a tree.

A yellow-naped parrot.

Two great kiskadees, busy with nesting material in their bills.

A black-headed trogon in a tree.

A Hoffmann’s woodpecker.

A solitary sandpiper on a lake bank.

A blue-black grassquit in a tree.

A white-collared seedeater.

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Stop damaging marmoset monkeys’ brains, campaigners say


This video from South Africa is called International Primate Rescue (1 of 4): Playing with Marmosets.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

Halt ‘disturbing’ medical tests on monkeys, campaigners urge

Monday 7th April 2014

Cure Parkinson’s Trust sponsors experiments pumping primate brains full of harmful drugs

Animal welfare activists have begged a British charity to stop “profoundly disturbing” experiments on monkeys’ brains for medical research into Parkinson’s disease.

Campaign organisation Animal Aid issued a statement today denouncing the Cure Parkinson’s Trust for sponsoring Canadian scientists to inject monkeys with brain-damaging drugs.

“The vast majority of the British public do not want their money being used to fund profoundly disturbing experiments on animals,” said Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler.

In papers published in the Journal of Neuroscience and Public Library of Science ONE between 2011 and 2012, the testing was described as injecting marmoset monkeys with the chemical MPTP, which mimics Parkinson’s by killing brain cells.

The animals were then given differing doses of L-Dopa — a Parkinson’s treatment drug — to monitor its side effects.

Cure Parkinson’s Trust was named in the media as a supporter of the tests.

“We are calling on charities like the Cure Parkinson’s Trust to focus solely on productive non-animal research,” added Mr Tyler.

Animal Aid argues that the recurrent use of the same animals was equally disgraceful, given that — according to the Home Office’s measurement of animal tests — the suffering induced to the marmoset monkeys was “severe.”

Mr Tyler claimed that the British public’s money was ultimately being used to torture the animals.

In Britain, as in Europe, it is illegal to re-use animals for experiments on the “severe” threshold of pain, distress or lasting harm.

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Tanagers and howler monkeys, Costa Rica, 15 March 2014


Passerini's tanager male, 15 March 2014

Still, 15 March 2014, in Cinchona, Costa Rica. A bit further away than the hummingbirds, a table with fruit attracted Passerini’s tanagers. Both males and females.

Passerini's tanager females, 15 March 2014

Palm tanager, 15 March 2014

The table also attracted palm tanagers.

Silver-throated tanager, 15 March 2014

And silver-throated tanagers.

Still a bit further away, we could see a Montezuma’s oropendola. And a variegated squirrel.

A blue morpho butterfly.

Clay-coloured thrush, Costa Rica, 15 March 2014

A clay-coloured thrush (the national bird of Costa Rica, because of its beautiful singing).

A white-crowned parrot.

A flock of white-collared swifts flying near a distant waterfall.

Bay-headed tanager, 15 March 2014

A Passerini’s tanager and a bay-headed tanager in the same tree.

Black vulture, 15 March 2014

In another tree, first one black vulture.

Then, two black vultures, before they both flew away.

On the fruit table, Passerini’s tanagers, both male and female, and a common bush-tanager.

Prong-billed barbet, 15 March 2014

A prong-billed barbet. Another species, unique for Costa Rica and western Panama.

We left. The bus went lower and lower.

Along the road, a melodious blackbird.

Mantled howler monkey, 15 March 2014

A mantled howler monkey family, including a youngster, feeding in a tree.

Mantled howler monkey and youngster, 15 March 2014

In another tree across the road: a Montezuma’s oropendola nesting colony.

Then, we continued to the Caribbean lowlands.

A turkey vulture flying.

This video gives an idea of the region where we arrived late on 15 March.

The video is called Rainforest and Wildlife in Sarapiqui, Costa Rica.

Stay tuned!

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Capuchin monkeys flirt by throwing stones


This video from Brazil says about itself:

Stone throwing by female capuchin monkeys / Arremesso de pedra por fêmeas de macacos-prego no cio

22 Nov 2013

Stone throwing by female capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) in estrus.

In the Sapajus genus females in estrus follow and try to attract the male attention. This display behavior includes facial expression and vocalizations.

The females of one of our study groups started to included stone throwing in the displays.

Serra da Capivara National Park – Piauí – Brazil.

From the BBC:

14 January 2014

Last updated at 01:22

Female capuchin monkeys throw stones to attract mates

By Ella Davies

Reporter, BBC Nature

Female capuchin monkeys have been filmed throwing stones at potential mates as a form of flirtation.

The primates whine, pull faces and follow potential mates around in scenes reminiscent of the school playground.

But scientists say this is a serious business for female capuchins as it is their only chance to secure a partner.

The previously unrecorded behaviour was filmed for the BBC/Discovery Channel coproduction series Wild Brazil.

Filmmakers captured the footage of bearded capuchins – a subspecies of tufted capuchins – in Serra da Capivara National Park, Brazil.

The monkeys live in the dry savannah-like habitat known as the Caatinga in north eastern Brazil.

Although their common name refers to their hairstyles, the monkeys’ passionate side is hinted at in their scientific name Sapajus libidinosus.

Camila Galheigo Coelho from the University of Durham, UK, and the University of Sao Paolo, Brazil, has spent the last two years studying the social interactions of the monkeys for her PhD and helped filmmakers reveal the secrets of the capuchins’ sex lives.

The monkeys are known for their intelligence after being recognised as the first non-ape primates recorded to use tools.

Their manipulation of stones – for cracking nuts, digging soil and investigating holes – has fascinated scientists for years and recent studies have focussed on the capuchins’ ability to accurately aim and throw these stones.

Ms Coelho’s colleagues Tiago Falotico and Prof Eduardo B. Ottoni recently published their description of the females’ novel stone-throwing in the online journal PLoS One.

Unlike other monkeys, female capuchins do not have any physical indicators to show when they are at their most fertile or “proceptive”.

Without brightly coloured, swollen genitals or strong smelling odours or liquids to communicate, the capuchins display they are ready to mate through their behaviour.

The females solicit attention from males with pronounced pouting faces, whining calls or by touching them and dashing away.

This behaviour builds as the females pursue their mates and in the Serra da Capivara capuchins, it leads to females throwing stones directly at the subjects of their desire.

But rather than a signal of aggression, the stone-throwing is a compliment.

“Similar to the other primates where the male might wait until the swelling has reached its peak in size or redness, capuchin males will wait for the female to display full blown proceptive behaviour in order to guarantee copulation at the most fertile stage,” explained Ms Coelho.

The biologist has been studying how individual behaviours can become more widespread traditions but she explained that this particular behaviour is unique to the Serra da Capivara group and is unlikely to be transmitted to others.

“It would be tricky for this behaviour to transfer. In capuchins the females stay with their groups for the rest of their lives – it’s the males that migrate to other groups,” she said.

Other cultures of using stones or sticks have a better chance of transmitting because males migrate into neighbouring groups and end up spreading the behaviour.”

Ms Coelho is now analysing her data to produce a “social network” of the capuchins’ interactions.

“The idea is that I can see who is friends with who and map onto that how the behaviour spreads.”

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