‘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.

Chimpanzees prefer African, Indian music to other music


This music video is called African Traditional Music.

From Wildlife Extra:

Chimps shun music of West and Japan in favour of African, Indian… or peace and quiet

Chimpanzees prefer silence to listening to Western-style music, but they do like a bit of African or Indian rhythm, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Not that the researchers want to be divisive.

“Our objective was not to find a preference for different cultures’ music,” said study co-author Frans de Waal of Emory University. “We used cultural music from Africa, India and Japan to pinpoint specific acoustic properties.

“Past research has focused only on Western music and has not addressed the very different acoustic features of non-Western music.

“While non-human primates have previously indicated a preference of music choices, they have consistently chosen silence over the types of music previously tested.”

Previous research has also found that some non-human primates prefer slower tempos, but the current findings may be the first to show that they display a preference for particular rhythmic patterns, according to the study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition.

“Although Western music, such as pop, blues and classical, sound different to the casual listener, they all follow the same musical and acoustic patterns. Therefore, by testing only different Western music, previous research has essentially replicated itself,” the authors wrote.

Sixteen adult chimps in two groups participated in the experiment at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University.

Over 12 consecutive days for 40 minutes each morning, the groups were given the opportunity to listen to African, Indian or Japanese music playing on a portable stereo near their outdoor enclosure.

Another portable stereo not playing any music was located at a different spot near the enclosure to rule out behaviour that might be associated with an object rather than the music.

The different types of music were at the same volume but played in random order.

Each day, researchers observed the chimps and recorded their location every two minutes with handwritten notes. They also videotaped the activity in the enclosure.

The researchers found that when African and Indian music was played near their large outdoor enclosures, the chimps spent significantly more time in areas where they could best hear the music.

When Japanese music was played, they were more likely to be found in spots where it was more difficult or impossible to hear the music.

The African and Indian music in the experiment had extreme ratios of strong to weak beats, whereas the Japanese music had regular strong beats, which is also typical of Western music.

“Chimpanzees may perceive the strong, predictable rhythmic patterns as threatening, as chimpanzee dominance displays commonly incorporate repeated rhythmic sounds such as stomping, clapping and banging objects,” said de Waal.

“Displaying a preference for music over silence is compelling evidence that our shared evolutionary histories may include favouring sounds outside of both humans’ and chimpanzees’ immediate survival cues,” said lead author Morgan Mingle of Emory and Southwestern University in Austin.

“Our study highlights the importance of sampling across the gamut of human music to potentially identify features that could have a shared evolutionary root.”

See also here.

Nature and nurture seem to contribute equally to chimpanzee intelligence, @Sara_Reardon reports: here.

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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Lemurs’ love life, new research


This video from the USA is called SIFAKA at DUKE LEMUR CENTER.

From Duke University in the USA:

Lemur lovers sync their scents: Strength of a lemur couple’s bond is reflected in the similarity of their scents

January 31, 2014

Summary:

Mating pairs of lemurs mirror each other’s scent-marking behavior and even start to smell alike after they have reproduced. Matched scents are possibly a way to combine territory defenses or to advertise their relationship status to the rest of their group, according to researchers. Couples who haven’t had kids yet spend the most time scent-marking and investigating each other’s odors.

The strength of a lemur couple’s bond is reflected by the similarity of their scents, finds a new study.

“It’s like singing a duet, but with smells instead of sounds,” said Christine Drea, a Duke University professor who supervised the study.

Duke researchers sampled and analyzed scent secretions produced by lemurs known as Coquerel‘s sifakas living at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, NC. The researchers also monitored the animals’ scent-marking and sniffing behavior across the breeding season.

They found that lemur lovers mirror each other’s scent-marking behavior, and that lemur couples with kids give off similar scents — possibly as a way to combine territory defenses or to advertise their relationship status to the rest of their group, the researchers say.

The lemurs spend the most time scent-marking and investigating each other’s odors before they have kids. After they reproduce, they smell more like each other.

The findings appear in the February 2014 edition of Animal Behaviour.

Coquerel’s sifakas are white-furred lemurs with chocolate-brown patches on their chests, arms and legs. They have glands on their throats and genital areas that produce a sticky goo that is dabbed on branches and tree trunks as the animals move through the forest.

To collect the data, the researchers used cotton swabs to sample scent secretions from the genital regions of eight males and seven females across different phases of the reproductive season.

Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry tests to identify the chemical ingredients in each animal’s unique aroma showed that sifaka scent secretions from the genital area alone contain more than 250 odor compounds.

The researchers also followed the behavior of six pairs of potential mates, measuring how often the animals smeared their scents on their surroundings — a behavior known as scent-marking — as well as how often they sniffed, licked, or marked over the scents left by other members of their group.

The animals mirrored the scent-marking behavior of their partners. “When one member of a pair started sniffing and scent-marking more often, their mate did too,” said Lydia Greene, a research associate in the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology who conducted the study as a Duke undergraduate.

The couples without offspring that spend more time on scent-marking and investigating each other’s odors may be in a ‘getting-to-know-you’ period, the researchers say.

“If two animals have never reproduced, the male doesn’t necessarily know what the female smells like when she’s in heat, because they’ve never gone through this before. They might need to scent mark a lot more to figure out when it’s time to mate,” Greene said.

Sifaka couples with kids spent less time scent-marking and investigating each other’s odors, but their odor profiles were more similar than those of couples without kids, possibly due to the exchange of odor-producing bacteria during mating, grooming, or other forms of physical contact.

Surprisingly, the number of years a couple had lived together made no difference to their mating success or the similarity of their scents. “Some of the sifaka couples had been living together for quite a while, but hadn’t managed to produce an infant, whereas others had been living together for a really short period of time and had already successfully reproduced,” Greene said.

Figuring out what the sifakas‘ chemical messages mean will take more time. The scent secretions of other lemur species contain hundreds of odor compounds that help the animals distinguish males from females, mark the boundaries of their territories, even tell when a female is fertile or sniff out the best mates. By sharing similar scent signals, sifaka couples could be jointly defending their territories, or advertising their bond to other lemurs in the group.

“It could be a signal that they’re a united front,” Drea said.

“[They could be saying] we’re a thing. We’ve bonded. Don’t mess with us,” Greene added.

This work was supported by Molly H. Glander Memorial Undergraduate Research Grants, Duke University Undergraduate Research Support grants, and by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

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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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Prehistoric human ancestors on video


This video from the USA says about itself:

Ancient Ancestors Come to Life

2 Jan 2014

See our ancient ancestors come to life through paleoartist John Gurche‘s realistic human likenesses for the Smithsonian’s Hall of Human Origins. “The human story is really nothing short of the story of a little corner of the universe becoming aware of itself,” says Gurche.

VIDEOGRAPHERS: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo and Dominic Mann

EDITOR: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo

By Isaac Saul in the USA:

Artist Brings Our Prehistoric Ancestors To Life (VIDEO)

01/03/2014 3:21 pm EST

Ever wonder about the origins of those incredibly life-like busts of our prehistoric ancestors on display in natural history museums?

As it turns out, the renderings are the handiwork of a handful of highly skilled paleo-artists around the world — including John Gurche, featured in the video above. …

Gurche, 62, spent four years sculpting the 15 detailed busts of human ancestors now on display at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. In addition to many sculptures, he’s also produced a book, “Shaping Humanity: How Science, Art and Imagination Help Us Understand Our Origins.”

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Myanmar hoolock gibbons, new research


This video is called Conservation of the Eastern Hoolock Gibbon.

By Frank Momberg today:

Myanmar critical for hoolock gibbon conservation

December 18, 2013

A comprehensive conservation status review of hoolock gibbons in Myanmar has been published by Fauna & Fauna International (FFI), People Resources and Conservation Foundation (PRCF) and Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA).

The review, issued through the Gibbon Conservation Alliance, involved three years of nationwide field surveys and threat assessments. Prior to this research, action was constrained by a lack of data on their distribution, population size and threats.

The results of the new research show serious threats and concludes that Myanmar is critical for the survival of both the Eastern and the Western hoolock gibbon. While Western hoolock gibbon populations in India and Bangladesh are severely fragmented, and even more so the Eastern hoolock populations in China. With 99.9% of Eastern and at least 90% of the Western hoolock total population, Myanmar offers the best chance of survival for both species.

To protect at least one important site for the conservation of each species, FFI, PRCF and BANCA have initiated a community based Western Hoolock Gibbon Project in Pauk Sa Mountain, Rhakine Yoma Range and a collaborative conservation project at Indawgyi Wildlife Sanctuary, in partnership with the Myanmar Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry. At both sides we have been able to reduce habitat fragmentation and hunting through active engagement of local communities in the protection of gibbons and by providing support for alternative livelihoods.

Slow loris twins born in Amersfoort zoo


This video is about the birth, earlier this month, of slow loris twins in the building for nocturnal animals in Amersfoort zoo in the Netherlands.

Loris trade not so slow! Learn about these incredible creatures and kick start our campaign to protect them! Here.

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Tunisian fossil primate discovery


This video from the USA says about itself:

NOVA scienceNOW: 41 – First Primates.

From ScienceDaily:

Fossil Primate Shakes Up History of Tooth-Combed Primates

Dec. 11, 2013 — Fossils discovered in Tunisia challenge several hypotheses concerning the origin of tooth-combed primates (Malagasy lemurs, Afro-Asian lorises and African galagos). The fossils are of a small primate called Djebelemur, which lived around 50 million years ago. They were discovered by a French-Tunisian team from the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution in Montpellier (CNRS/Université Montpellier 2/IRD) and the Office National des Mines (ONM) in Tunis.

According to the paleontologists, Djebelemur was probably a transitional form leading to the appearance of tooth-combed primates. However, according to genetic data, these primates appeared at least 15 million years earlier. Djebelemur therefore challenges the hypotheses put forward by molecular biology. The work, which has just been published in PLoS One, makes it possible to reconstruct a chapter in the evolutionary history of this lineage. In addition, it may help to refine genetic models.

Tooth-combed primates, also called strepsirrhines, comprise lemurs and lorisiforms (small primates which include lorises and galagos). In these primates, the anterior teeth of the lower jaw take the form of a comb. This is mainly used for grooming, but also, in some species, for procuring the natural gums that make up part of their diet.

A key question debated by primatologists concerns the time when strepsirrhine primates first appeared. Recent genetic data dates the origin of lemurs and lorises to the onset of the Tertiary period, just after the disappearance of the dinosaurs (approximately 65 million years ago). Some molecular biologists even believe that divergence of the two groups occurred 80 million years ago. However, paleontological data does not corroborate these hypotheses: the oldest known lorisiform fossil dates from a mere 37 million years ago. Could this simply be due to a gap in the fossil record? The fossils discovered by the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution in Montpellier (CNRS/Université Montpellier 2/IRD) and the ONM in Tunis suggest otherwise: it is the genetic models that may need to be revised.

Discovered in the sediments of a former lake in Djebel Chambi National Park, Tunisia, the approximately 50 million-year-old fossils belong to a small primate called Djebelemur (lemur of the Djebel). This was a tiny animal weighing scarcely 70 g. It was most certainly nocturnal, a predator of insects and a tree-dweller. Some of its morphological characteristics suggest that it was a distant relative of lemurs, galagos and lorises. However, although it did not yet have such a specialized toothcomb, it exhibited a tooth structure that had already been transformed, an early stage of the anterior dentition of today’s strepsirrhines.

Djebelemur thus appears to be a transitional form, pre-dating the lorisiform-lemuriform divergence. Therefore, tooth-combed primates probably did not originate as early as molecular biologists have claimed. This is likely to have occurred less than 50 million years ago, the age of the Djebelemur fossil.

This is not the first time that genetic data disagrees with paleontological data. For many groups of mammals, geneticists tend to put forward earlier dates of origin than those provided by direct observation of the fossil record. Molecular biology increasingly seeks to refine its models by constraining them with fossil data. In the case of the origin of tooth-combed primates, Djebelemur could prove to be a significant milestone making it possible to reset the molecular clock and improve estimates of divergence dates derived from molecular phylogenies.