This video says about itself:
15 January 2016
This video says about itself:
6 October 2015
The Largest Ape that Ever Lived, National Geographic documentary
The Gigantopithecus blacki stood up to 3 m (9.8 ft).
From Wildlife Extra:
Why Earth’s Largest Ape Went Extinct
Little is known about the mysterious Gigantopithecus blacki, a distant relative to orangutans that stood up to 10 feet (3 meters) tall and weighed up to 595 lbs. (270 kilograms).
However, a new analysis of its diet suggests it lived and ate exclusively in the forest. When its forest habitats shrank about 100,000 years ago, the enormous ape may not have been able to snag enough food to survive and reproduce, and went extinct as a result, said study co-author Hervé Bocherens, a paleontologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany.
Scientists know almost nothing about the mysterious ape. The first hint of its existence came in 1935, when German paleontologist Gustav von Koenigswald happened upon Gigantopithecus molars in a pharmacy in China; the molars were labeled as “dragon teeth,” which practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine believe can heal a variety of maladies.
For years, that was the only trace of the greatest ape that ever lived. Since then, however, researchers have found dozens of teeth and a few partial jaws of Gigantopithecus in several spots in southern China, Vietnam and even India.
“There is no skull, no postcranial skeleton. Everything is very mysterious,” Bocherens told Live Science.
Based on fossils, researchers believe G. blacki roamed throughout Southeast Asia for at least 1 million years, going extinct around 100,000 years ago. Its morphology suggests its closest living relatives are orangutans, meaning that African primates such as chimps are more closely related to humans than to G. blacki, he said.
Scientists still knew relatively little about how the gigantic beast lived and why it died out, though theories abound. Noting the similarity between the large size of G. blacki’s molars and the overgrown chompers of giant pandas, some have argued G. blacki dined exclusively on bamboo. But wear and tear on the teeth of G. blacki suggested it ate a diet heavy on fruits, with leaves and roots in the mix, Bocherens said.
To get a better picture, Bocherens and his colleagues conducted a chemical analysis of a Gigantopithecus blacki tooth first uncovered in a cave in Thailand near a dam teeming with other fossils, including remnants of orangutans, deer, buffalo and porcupine.
Because grasses and leafy plants use slightly different chemical pathways for photosynthesis, grasses accumulate higher levels of carbon-13 (meaning carbon with seven neutrons) than carbon-12 (which has six neutrons). As animals up the food chain eat these plants, they retain the chemical signature of their diet in the ratio of these carbon isotopes present in their bones and teeth. As a result, the scientists were able to identify the diet and habitat of G. blacki based on the ratio of carbon isotopes in its tooth enamel. The team also analyzed the dietary signature of the other large mammals found at the Thailand site, as well as the diets of existing large mammals.
Doomed to extinction
It turned out that G. blacki ate, and presumably lived, exclusively in forested regions. But the carbon ratios in the other animals from the cave revealed they were eating a mix of foods from both the savanna and the forest. That suggests that at the time the gigantic ape lived, Southeast Asia was a mosaic of forest and savanna. So Gigantopithecus blacki lived near huge swaths of grassland, yet didn’t forage in the nearby grasslands.
The combination of this restricted diet and its huge size may have doomed the giant creatures, Bocherens said.
“Living in the forest was really the only option for Gigantopithecus. So if the forest disappears, there is no possibility to find another habitat,” Bocherens said.
It’s likely that each time the climate got cooler and drier at various points in the Pleistocene epoch, the forested region shrank and the population of G. blacki crashed. Sometime around 100,000 years ago, a cold snap occurred and there were simply too few of the giant beasts left to survive, the researchers speculate.
As supporting evidence for this hypothesis, Bocherens notes that similar “population bottlenecks” reduced the range of orangutans from almost all of Southeast Asia to their current tiny habitats in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. However, orangutans have smaller bodies and can reduce their metabolism to very low levels during seasons when fruit is unavailable, which likely helped keep their population stable during periods when forest habitat was sparse. Gigantopithecus may not have had that option.
Still, the story doesn’t completely explain why G. blacki disappeared when it did, Bocherens said.
“There were a lot of fluctuations of climate, and there were also colder and drier conditions.” Bocherens said. “I see this as a beginning study. It’s putting a new piece in the puzzle, and the puzzle is not very complete.”
This video says about itself:
30 October 2014
On today’s China View, we’ll go to a rainforest reserve in south China’s Hainan Province to meet endangered Hainan gibbons. As one of seven extant gibbon species, they are endemic to Hainan and are found nowhere else. It is recorded that about 23 of the animals remain in the world, making them extremely rare.
From Wildlife Extra:
World’s rarest ape: new family group found
The future of the world’s rarest apes look just a little bit brighter given the recent discovery of a new family group in Bawangling National Nature Reserve in China.
Until last month, it was thought that there were just 25 Hainan Gibbons (Nomascus hainanus) living in three social groups on an island off the Chinese mainland.
The discovery of a new fourth group, by a team led by international conservation charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), has increased the known population by almost 12 per cent.
The group consisted of a mating pair with a young baby, sighted within Bawangling National Nature Reserve, Hainan Province.
The existence of this fourth breeding group increases the reproductive potential of the population, which could be vital for the long term survival of the Critically Endangered gibbons.
ZSL researcher Dr Jessica Bryant, who led the expedition that made the discovery, says: “Finding a new Hainan Gibbon group is a fantastic boost for the population.
“We had hoped to locate at least one or two solitary gibbons, but discovering a whole new family group complete with a baby is beyond our wildest dreams.”
The new social group brings the estimate of the total population of Hainan Gibbons to around 28 individuals.
The ZSL-led project team, including international gibbon experts along with staff from Bawangling National Nature Reserve Management Office, set out to try and find any surviving lone gibbons in the reserve to gain a greater understanding of the total number of Hainan Gibbons that remain.
Gibbons are typically located by the sound of their daily song. Due to the low population density of the Hainan Gibbon, they are less likely to sing as there are few other gibbons to advertise their territory to, making detection of solitary individuals or groups extremely challenging.
By utilising new acoustic techniques that prompt gibbons to investigate and call, the team were able to locate this new group.
Dr Bryant adds: “The success of our discovery is really encouraging. We now want to learn more about this new group, and also hope to extend the investigation to perhaps even find additional solitary gibbons or other groups.
“Today is a great day for Hainan Gibbon conservation.”
This video says about itself:
Kafka’s Monkey trailer
3 June 2015
This sell-out production features an extraordinarily physical performance from Olivier Award-winner Kathryn Hunter as a chimp who assimilates human behaviour to become a master of the ‘civilised world’ – a walking, talking, spitting, smoking, hard-drinking man of the stage.
Kafka‘s Monkey runs until Sat 27 June.
By Paul Foley in England:
The beast in man
Tuesday 23rd June 2015
Kafka’s Monkey has some discomfiting things to say about our attitudes to the animal world, says PAUL FOLEY
ADAPTED by Colin Teevan, this play is based on Franz Kafka’s intriguing short story A Report to an Academy, where a domesticated ape — Red Peter, so named because of the scar he received when shot by hunters — is invited to give a lecture to the esteemed members of the institution.
He describes his journey from a captive beast to a human with the “average education of a European” and how, once captured, he comes to realise he has two options — a zoo or the circus. The first is merely swapping one cage for another and, while the circus may appear to offer some kind of escape, he has no illusions that this represents liberty. “People all too often are deceived by freedom,” he says.
Professing satisfaction at what he has attained, he will not countenance regret. Yet the sorrow in his eyes tells a different story, one in which there is a real sense of loss for a culture and an identity as an ape in the wild.
This is an engrossing hour-long discourse on the meaning of captivity, freedom, migration and whether assimilating into a host culture can be an escape or merely a different type of shackle.
Kathryn Hunter is extraordinary as the ape. Her physicality and flexibility are breathtaking as she lumbers across the stage in a shabby top hat and tails, playfully interacting with her audience. Astonishment and fascination at her performance slowly give way to discomfort and sadness at the realisation that it is we, humanity, who stand accused.
Audiences across the world have reacted very differently to the play. In Australia, comparisons have been made with the plight of the Aboriginal people, while in New York a Jewish audience believed that Kafka was talking about them. That’s hardly surprising, since Kafka’s Monkey speaks to a world that turns its back on desperate people who risk their lives in overcrowded, leaky boats merely to swap poverty and war for hostility and incarceration in inhumane prison camps. In making us reflect on those parallels, Hunter’s wonderfully humane performance is a must-see.
Runs until June 27, box office: homemcr.org.
Court rules: Kafka’s papers belong in Israel’s National Library. Judges say Eva Hoffe has been holding the papers she inherited from her mother, Max Brod’s secretary, illegally and ordered her to transfer them to the National Library: here.
Comparison of bonobo anatomy to humans offers evolutionary clues
June 02 2015
A pair of anthropology researchers, one with the University of California, the other Modesto College has found what they believe are clues to human evolutionary development by conducting a long term study of bonobo anatomy. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Adrienne Zihlman and Debra Bolter, describe their anatomy studies and their ideas on why what they found offers new clues on why humans developed in the ways we did.
Scientists looking to understand how humans evolved have studied a lot of fossils, but such samples are of bones, which means there is little to no evidence of what organs, muscle or fat looked like in our ancestors which means there are still questions regarding things such as what percentage or proportion of fat or muscle was there, where were they located on the body, and what the organs were like. In this new study, the research pair sought to uncover clues by studying bonobos, apes that look a lot like chimpanzees and are considered to be our closest relative.
To learn more about bonobo anatomy, the researchers performed autopsies on thirteen of the apes that had died naturally over the course of three decades, carefully jotting down seldom noted information such as fat and muscle percentages. In so doing, they came to see that bonobos have considerably less fat on their bodies than do humans, even those that lived a similar sedentary life due to living in captivity. They also found that the apes had more upper body mass than humans as a rule and less leg muscle—bonobos also have a lot more skin.
In analyzing their results, the researchers suggest that the differences likely came about as early human ancestors began walking around upright, causing the need for more leg muscle and more fat—because a nomadic lifestyle would necessitate a fat store to prevent starvation during lean times, especially for females if they were to successfully bear offspring. They also believe that we humans have less skin because as we moved around and moved faster on two legs—our skin developed an ability to sweat as a means to keep cool and that led to thinner skin.
The human body has been shaped by natural selection during the past 4–5 million years. Fossils preserve bones and teeth but lack muscle, skin, fat, and organs. To understand the evolution of the human form, information about both soft and hard tissues of our ancestors is needed. Our closest living relatives of the genus Pan provide the best comparative model to those ancestors. Here, we present data on the body composition of 13 bonobos (Pan paniscus) measured during anatomical dissections and compare the data with Homo sapiens. These comparative data suggest that both females and males (i) increased body fat, (ii) decreased relative muscle mass, (iii) redistributed muscle mass to lower limbs, and (iv) decreased relative mass of skin during human evolution. Comparison of soft tissues between Pan and Homo provides new insights into the function and evolution of body composition.
From The Dodo about this video:
Captive Orangutan Sneaks Food To His Friends In Never-Before-Seen Act Of Kindness
By Stephen Messenger
April 10, 2015
Humans are commonly believed to be the most intelligent and advanced of all the great ape species, a position that’s led us to routinely subject the others to lives in confinement. But the most potent lesson on what it is to be humane just might have come from one of these non-human captives.
In a remarkable show of interspecies solidarity between primates imprisoned at the Phoenix Zoo in Miyazaki, Japan, an orangutan has been observed sharing meals with a group of chimpanzees in a cage just out of reach. Keepers say that 21-year-old orangutan Happy has made a habit of offering food given to him so that the nine chimps have a little more to fill their bellies.
Experts say this sort of seemingly selfless behavior could be unprecedented.
“We have never heard of an orangutan that bothers to offer their food to other animals living separately from the animal,” Tomoyuki Tajima, a primate specialist, told Japanese news outlet Asahi.
In the wild, orangutans are notoriously solitary creatures but they also possess a “high social intelligence,” another expert told the newspaper. Despite the differences between the apes, and the fact that Happy would never encounter a chimpanzee outside the wholly artificial setting of the zoo, he seems keenly aware that they could benefit from an act of kindness.
None of those animals have a choice about their captivity, but with the small freedom of movement this orangutan could afford, he’s decided to use it to show kindness to creatures unlike himself — usurping the cage his “loftier-minded” captors constructed to keep them apart.
CHIMP COOKS! “Inside every chimp might be a budding chef, just waiting for the right opportunity to show off his culinary skills. While it’s long been known that chimps prefer cooked food when given the option, a new study goes even further, showing how chimps may have the patience, planning ability and understanding needed to do the cooking themselves if given the opportunity.” [Ed Mazza, HuffPost]
Chimpanzees may have a similar sense of right and wrong to humans: here.