Chimpanzees painting

From LiveScience in the USA:

Chimp-Painted Art is Expressive, Even When Painted by Tongue (Op-Ed)

Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO, Humane Society of the United States

September 04, 2013 07:52pm ET


chimpanzees art, human society of the united states, medical research ethics
Brent is a chimpanzee who lives at Chimp Haven in Keithville, La. Brent is 37 years old and has lived at Chimp Haven since 2006. He is protective of Grandma, Chimp Haven’s oldest resident. He loves to laugh and play. Brent paints only with his tongue. His unique approach and style, while a little unorthodox, results in beautiful pieces of art.
Credit: Chimp Haven.View full size image

Wayne Pacelle is the president and chief executive officer of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). This Op-Ed is adapted from a post on the blog A Humane Nation, where the content ran before appearing in LiveScience’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

We do a lot of serious business at The HSUS, taking all kinds of cruelty head-on. But we also celebrate animals, taking stock of the diversity of life and the incredible attributes of the other creatures on the planet.

HSUS supporters may have received an e-mail from me a few weeks ago announcing an art contest — in this particular contest, the artists are very strong, very hairy and very smart.

They are, in fact, chimps — and let’s just say they haven’t been classically trained.

We enlisted six member organizations of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance, and asked if a chimp at each facility would create and submit a piece of art. Modern, impressionist, abstract expressionist, still life with banana. It was their prerogative.

In the end, six sanctuaries submitted pieces, and 27,000 people cast votes to choose a winner. Jane Goodall, famed primatologist and U.N. Messenger of Peace, also chose her favorite.

Last week, we announced the winners.

chimpanzees art, human society of the united states, medical research ethics

Brent, a 37-year-old chimpanzee from Chimp Haven, won 1st place in a recent chimp-art competition with his unorthodox painting technique of only using his tongue.
Credit: Chimp Haven.

View full size image

Brent’s masterpiece — painted with, of all things, his tongue — won the public vote and his sanctuary, Chimp Haven of Louisiana, won a grant of $10,000 from The HSUS.

Credit: Save the Chimps. Cheetah, of Save the Chimps in Florida, whose seriousness and concentration while painting are unmistakable, placed second in the online voting and also won the coveted selection by Goodall, winning a total of $10,000. Ripley of the Center for Great Apes in Florida won third prize, for a $2,500 grant. The paintings by Jamie of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, Jenny of Primate Rescue Center, and Patti of Chimps, Inc., convey the unique style of each chimpanzee.
View full size image

chimpanzees art, human society of the united states, medical research ethics

Cheetah is a chimpanzee who lives at Save the Chimps in Ft. Pierce, Fla. The Artist formerly known as Cheetah: Cheetah, estimated to be born in the 1970’s, lived alone in a laboratory for 13 years and endured over 400 over biopsies. He was rescued by Save the Chimps in 2002 and has since discovered his passion for painting.

View full size image

Many people are clamoring and demanding to know how they can get their own chimpanzee art — and let me assure you, your cries will be heard, as we’re planning an online auction of the paintings this fall to benefit NAPSA, of which our own Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, operated by our affiliate The Fund for Animals, is a member.

We are glad that the chimpanzees at these sanctuaries have the time and security to pursue their creative genius. That was not always the case for them. Brent, Cheetah, Jenny and Jamie were all used in biomedical research. Cheetah lived in isolation for years and was subjected to over 400 liver biopsies. Ripley and Patti were used in entertainment — performing on camera or before crowds.

They are all serving as ambassadors for those chimpanzees who still languish in laboratories and are used in the entertainment industry today.

The HSUS has worked hard to get all chimpanzees out of laboratories and into safe places, and a recent decision by the National Institutes of Health to retire more than 300 chimpanzees along with a proposal by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to list all chimpanzees as endangered under the Endangered Species Act will mean a sharp decline in these exploitive activities. [America's Fleeting Chance to Correct Chimps' Endangered Status (Op-Ed)]

chimpanzees art, human society of the united states, medical research ethics

Cheetah, who lived alone in a lab for 13 years and endured more than 400 biopsies before being rescued by Save the Chimps, won 2nd place in a recent chimp-art competition — he was Dr. Jane Goodall’s selection during judging.
Credit: Save the Chimps.

View full size image

We at The HSUS have always said that making sure chimpanzees are safe in sanctuary is just as important as ending their use in exploitative activities. We are grateful to sanctuaries that work so hard to provide enriching lives for these animals. We will be sure to stop and celebrate the retirement of each and every one. See the rest of the masterpieces here.

Pacelle’s most recent Op-Ed was “Sharks Gain Protections in India, Will U.S. Follow Suit?”. This article was adapted from “From Monet and Picasso to Brent and Cheetah” which first appeared on the HSUS blog A Humane Nation. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published on LiveScience.

Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 90 – The Common Chimpanzee: here.

New Madagascar dwarf lemur discovery

Cheirogaleus lavasoensis, from southern Madagascar. Photo credit: Andreas Hapke

From Wildlife Extra:

New species of critically endangered Dwarf lemur recognised on Madagascar

First discovered in 2001, but only now recognised as a distinct species, the Lavasoa Dwarf Lemur population probably consists of fewer than 50 animals

July 2013. The island of Madagascar harbours a unique biodiversity that evolved due to its long-lasting isolation from other land masses, and there are high numbers of endemic plant and animal species.


Lemurs are found almost exclusively on Madagascar, the only exceptions are two species that also live on the Comoros Islands, where they probably have been introduced by humans. Thanks to extensive field research over the past decades, numerous previously unknown lemur species have been discovered. Dwarf lemurs in turn received relatively little attention to date and the diversity within this genus is still not well known.

Researchers from the universities of Mainz and Antananarivo have investigated lemur populations in southern Madagascar. Based on fieldwork and laboratory analyses, they now identified a previously unknown species of dwarf lemur.

“Together with Malagasy scientists, we have been studying the diversity of lemurs for several years now,” said Dr. Andreas Hapke of the Institute of Anthropology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). “It is only now that we were able to determine that some of the animals examined represent a previously unknown species.”

Lives in just 3 forest fragments, probably less than 50 still alive

The newly described Lavasoa Dwarf Lemur (Cheirogaleus lavasoensis) inhabits three isolated forest fragments in the extreme south of Madagascar. According to current knowledge, it does not occur outside this area. The exact population size is unknown. Preliminary estimates indicate that there are less than 50 individuals remaining. The Lavasoa Dwarf Lemur is thus rare and extremely endangered.

Very difficult to study

The lifestyle of dwarf lemurs makes them extremely difficult to study as these nocturnal forest dwellers often remain in the upper parts of the forest canopy. Moreover, they hibernate for several months during the austral winter. Their main period of activity is the rainy season, when many of the forests they inhabit are virtually inaccessible to scientists. Nevertheless, the researchers were able to carefully capture a total of 51 dwarf lemurs in live traps at nine locations for this study and to take minute tissue samples before releasing the animals back into their natural habitat.

Mouse and dwarf lemurs

The tissue samples were subjected to molecular-genetic analyses at the Institute of Anthropology at Mainz University. The data generated through the process were then compared with data already published by other research groups. “The new data from southern Madagascar enabled us to significantly enlarge existing datasets,” explained Dana Thiele of the JGU Institute of Anthropology. “We then used extensive data analyses to examine the genetic diversity in two closely related lemur genera, the mouse lemurs (Microcebus) and the dwarf lemurs (Cheirogaleus). The comparison showed that the species diversity of dwarf lemurs is greater than previously thought.”

Andreas Hapke and Refaly Ernest, working as a local field assistant for the project, had discovered the first individuals of the Lavasoa Dwarf Lemur during a field study in Madagascar in 2001. Few genetic data from other parts of the island were available for comparison at that time. The animals were thus initially assigned to an already known species, Cheirogaleus crossleyi. Only now it was possible to ascertain that the Lavasoa Dwarf Lemur is a distinct species.

The findings of the research project have recently been published in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

See also here.

Endangered Species No. 72 – The Red-ruffed Lemur: here.

Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 96 – The Black and White Ruffed Lemur: here.

Protect Tanzanian primates

This video is called Primate Questions of Conservation, Part 1/4.

From Wildlife Extra:

Tanzania primates should be protected by ‘Priority Primate Areas’

First full inventory of primates for Tanzania confirms wealth of rare species and ranks species and sites for conservation attention

July 2013. A five-year study by the Wildlife Conservation Society gives new hope to some of the world’s most endangered primates by establishing a roadmap to protect all 27 species in Tanzania – the most primate-diverse country in mainland Africa.

The study combines Tanzania’s first-ever inventory of all primate species and their habitats with IUCN Red List criteria and other factors such as threats and rarity, ranking all 27 species from most vulnerable to least vulnerable. The authors then identify a network of “Priority Primate Areas” for conservation.

9 endemic species

A third of Tanzania’s primate species are found nowhere else on earth. The study found that the most vulnerable was the kipunji, first discovered by WCS in 2003 on Mt Rungwe and described by WCS as an entirely new genus in 2006. Another extremely vulnerable species is the Zanzibar red colobus, a species whose population is currently being counted by WCS. More common species include the baboons, black and white colobus monkeys and vervets.

60 important primate areas

The study assigned a score to pinpoint the most important areas for protection. The analysis revealed more than 60 important primate areas including national parks, game reserves, forest reserves, conservation areas, and currently unprotected landscapes. However, the adequate protection of just nine sites, including six national parks (Kilimanjaro, Kitulo, Mahale, Saadani, Udzungwa and Jozani-Chwaka Bay), one nature reserve (Kilombero) and two forest reserves (Minziro and Mgambo), totalling 8,679 square kilometres (3,350 square miles), would protect all 27 of Tanzania’s primate species.

Priority Primate Areas

The authors say that the Priority Primate Areas could be applied in other nations rich in wildlife but facing burgeoning pressures from population growth. This could be similar to “Important Bird Areas” a global effort to identify and conserve places that are vital to birds and other biodiversity. In fact, Tanzania’s Priority Primate Areas were also often rich in bird life underscoring their value to conservation in general.

“We believe Priority Primate Areas can be a valuable conservation tool worldwide, similar to the successful Important Bird Area concept,” said the study’s lead author, Tim Davenport of WCS. “For a developing nation of such global conservation importance like Tanzania, priority setting is an essential tool in managing wildlife.”

Tanzania is widely regarded as the most important country in mainland Africa for biological diversity and unique species, and contains the continent’s highest mountain, deepest lakes and large parts of two globally significant biodiversity hotspots, the Eastern Afromontane and the Albertine Rift.

Highest rate of forest loss

However, Tanzania has the second highest rate of forest loss in sub-Saharan Africa, despite considerable conservation investment and a large amount of land nominally under protection.

“This study has global implications as many nations grapple with reconciling their development needs with biological conservation and the needs of wildlife,” said James Deutsch, WCS Executive Director for Africa Programs. “Science-based priority setting tools like this one are the best chance for developing nations to minimize biodiversity loss.”

The paper appears in the July 17 issue of the journal Oryx. Authors are Tim Davenport of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Katarzyna Nowak of the Udzungwa Elephant Project, and Andrew Perkin of the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group.

January 2014: The Humane Society International/UK (HIS/UK)has called for the UK Parliament to ban the keeping of primates as pets. Recent estimates suggest that upwards of 9,000 primates may be held as pets in the UK, but the true figure could be far higher as records are incomplete: here.

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Neanderthal language, still today?

This video is called Neanderthal – BBC Documentary.

From World Science:

Neanderthals may have talked—even contributed to our languages, scholars claim

July 10, 2013

Courtesy of the Max Planck In­sti­tute for Psy­cho­lin­guis­tics and World Science staff

Ne­an­der­thal peo­ple may have pos­sessed lan­guage, and their words might even have con­tri­but­ed to the lan­guages of our spe­cies, two sci­en­tists pro­pose.

Though the sec­ond idea has yet to be tested, they add, ev­i­dence al­ready ex­ists for the first. Both pro­pos­als fol­low recent find­ings that Nean­der­thals interbred with an­cestors of mod­ern hu­mans.

Da­ta is quickly ac­cu­mu­lating that seems to in­di­cate that Ne­an­der­thals, close cousins to mod­ern peo­ple, were much more like us than im­ag­ined even a dec­ade ago, say re­search­ers Dan Dediu and Ste­phen C. Levin­son of the Max Planck In­sti­tute for Psy­cho­lin­guis­tics in Nij­me­gen, Neth­er­lands.

They ar­gue that mod­ern lan­guage and speech can be traced back to the last com­mon an­ces­tor we shared with the Ne­an­der­thals, roughly half a mil­lion years ago. A pa­per de­tail­ing their work ap­peared in the July 5 on­line is­sue of the jour­nal Fron­tiers in Lan­guage Sci­ences.

The Ne­an­der­thals have fas­ci­nat­ed schol­ars and the pub­lic alike ev­er since their dis­cov­ery al­most 200 years ago. In­i­tially thought to be sub­hu­man brutes in­ca­pa­ble of much be­yond prim­i­tive grunts, they were a suc­cess­ful form of hu­man­ity in­hab­it­ing vast swathes of west­ern Eur­a­sia for sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand years, in­clud­ing dur­ing harsh gla­cial per­iods.

It’s well es­tab­lished that they were our clos­est cousins, shar­ing a com­mon an­ces­tor with us around half a mil­lion years ago—probably the spe­cies Ho­mo hei­del­ber­gen­sis, Dediu and Levin­son say. But it has been un­clear what their men­tal ca­pa­ci­ties were, or why mod­ern hu­mans re­placed them—an es­ti­mat­ed 28,000 years ago—after thou­sands of years of co­hab­ita­t­ion.

Due to new palaeoan­thro­po­log­i­cal and ar­chae­o­log­i­cal find­ings and re­assess­ments of old­er da­ta, but es­pe­cially to the avail­abil­ity of an­cient DNA, we’ve started to real­ize that their fate was in­ter­twined with ours, the re­search­ers not­ed. And far from be­ing slow brutes, they added, their men­tal ca­pa­ci­ties and cul­ture were com­pa­ra­ble to ours.

Dediu and Levin­son re­view all these strands of lit­er­a­ture and ar­gue that es­sen­tially mod­ern lan­guage and speech are an an­cient fea­ture of our line­age dat­ing back at least to the most re­cent an­ces­tor we shared with the Ne­an­der­thals and the Deniso­vans, an­oth­er form of hu­man­ity known mostly from DNA.

Their in­ter­preta­t­ion of the am­big­u­ous, scant ev­i­dence con­tra­dicts the sce­nar­i­o usu­ally as­sumed by most lan­guage sci­en­tists, that of a sud­den and re­cent emer­gence of mod­ern­ity—pre­sumably due to one or very few muta­t­ions. In­stead, the re­search­ers fa­vor a sce­nar­i­o of grad­u­al ac­cu­mula­t­ion of biolog­i­cal and cul­tur­al in­nova­t­ions.

The new pic­ture would push back the ori­gins of mod­ern lan­guage over ten­fold, from the often-cited 50 or so thou­sand years, to around a mil­lion years ago. That’s some­where be­tween the ori­gins of our ge­nus, Ho­mo, some 1.8 mil­lion years ago, and the emer­gence of Ho­mo hei­del­ber­gen­sis. A ge­nus is a biolog­i­cal clas­sifica­t­ion that em­braces a num­ber of spe­cies.

Giv­en that ar­chae­o­log­i­cal and ge­net­ic da­ta shows mod­ern hu­mans spread­ing from Af­ri­ca mixed with Ne­an­der­thals and Deniso­vans, then just as we car­ry around some of their genes, our lan­guages may pre­serve traces of theirs, the sci­en­tists added. The idea, they ar­gued, is test­a­ble by com­par­ing the struc­tur­al prop­er­ties of Af­ri­can and non-Af­ri­can lan­guages, and by com­put­er sim­ula­t­ions of lan­guage spread.

New finds demonstrate: Neandertals were the first in Europe to make standardized and specialized bone tools – which are still in use today: here.

Resourceful Neanderthals in France – Popular Archaeology: here.

Neanderthal and Denisovan retroviruses in modern humans: here.

Did Mexicans Inherit Diabetes Risk from Neanderthals? Here.

New Madagascan lemur research

The Sahamalaza sportive lemur (Lepilemur sahamalazensis) roosts during the day in rather open situations such as tree holes. (Credit: Image copyright Melanie Seiler)

From ScienceDaily:

Solitary Lemurs Avoid Danger With a Little Help from the Neighbors

July 5, 2013 — An endangered species of Madagascan lemur uses the alarm calls of birds and other lemurs to warn it of the presence of predators, a new study by researchers from the University of Bristol and Bristol Zoo with the University of Torino has found. This is the first time this phenomenon has been observed in a solitary and nocturnal lemur species.

Very little is known about the Sahamalaza sportive lemur (Lepilemur sahamalazensis), other than the fact it roosts during the day in rather open situations, such as tree holes, and therefore risks falling victim to predators from both the air and the ground.

Sportive lemurs are not kept in any zoo. Prior to this research virtually nothing was known about this particular species despite the fact that it has been classified as Critically Endangered, the top threat category of the International Union for Conservation of Nature‘s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, at a red-listing workshop in Madagascar in July 2012. …

The lemurs of Sahamalaza National Park in northwest Madagascar are threatened by deforestation, hunting and forest fragmentation. Bristol Zoo is working to preserve the small bits of forest, roughly 200 hectares on the Sahamalaza Peninsula, that they have left which is vitally important for the continued survival of this and other lemur species.

Ape, monkey evolution discoveries in Tanzania

Artist’s impression of the newly discovered Rukwapithecus, front, and Nsungwepithecus, right (Mauricio Anton)

From Big News Network (ANI):

Oldest evidence of split between Old World monkeys and apes uncovered

Thursday 16th May, 2013

Discovery of two fossils from the East African Rift has provided new information about the evolution of primates, according to a study.

The team’s findings document the oldest fossils of two major groups of primates: the group that today includes apes and humans (hominoids), and the group that includes Old World monkeys such as baboons and macaques (cercopithecoids).

Geological analyses of the study site indicate that the finds are 25 million years old, significantly older than fossils previously documented for either of the two groups.

Both primates are new to science, and were collected from a single fossil site in the Rukwa Rift Basin of Tanzania.

Rukwapithecus fleaglei is an early hominoid represented by a mandible preserving several teeth. Nsungwepithecus gunnelli is an early cercopithecoid represented by a tooth and jaw fragment.

The primates lived during the Oligocene epoch, which lasted from 34 to 23 million years ago. For the first time, the study documents that the two lineages were already evolving separately during this geological period.

“The late Oligocene is among the least sampled intervals in primate evolutionary history, and the Rukwa field area provides a first glimpse of the animals that were alive at that time from Africa south of the equator,” said Nancy Stevens, an associate professor of paleontology in Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine who leads the paleontological team.

Prior to these finds, the oldest fossil representatives of the hominoid and cercopithecoid lineages were recorded from the early Miocene, at sites dating millions of years younger.

The new discoveries are particularly important for helping to reconcile a long-standing disagreement between divergence time estimates derived from analyses of DNA sequences from living primates and those suggested by the primate fossil record, Stevens said.

Studies of clock-like mutations in primate DNA have indicated that the split between apes and Old World monkeys occurred between 30 million and 25 million years ago.

“Fossils from the Rukwa Rift Basin in southwestern Tanzania provide the first real test of the hypothesis that these groups diverged so early, by revealing a novel glimpse into this late Oligocene terrestrial ecosystem,” Stevens said.

The new fossils are the first primate discoveries from this precise location within the Rukwa deposits, and two of only a handful of known primate species from the entire late Oligocene, globally.

The scientists scanned the specimens in the Ohio University’s MicroCT scanner, allowing them to create detailed 3-dimensional reconstructions of the ancient specimens that were used for comparisons with other fossils.

“This is another great example that underscores how modern imaging and computational approaches allow us to address more refined questions about vertebrate evolutionary history,” said Patrick O’Connor, co-author and professor of anatomy in Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The study was published online in Nature this week led by Ohio University scientists.

See also here. And here. And here.

In Tanzania, Nature Provides Unseen Value for Farmers: here.

Lemur babies born

This is a video about ring-tailed lemurs, from the BBC’s “Life” documentary series.

Amersfoort zoo in the Netherlands reports that young ring-tailed lemurs were born there recently.

Also, two young donkeys were born.

And the vultures have eggs in their nests.