This BBC video says about itself:
15 March 2017
This video from the USA says about itself:
25 July 2014
Nature and science documentarian David Attenborough describes the effort to screen a newly rediscovered collection of amber from the Dominican Republic and the tiny grasshopper found in 20-million-year-old amber that was named for him. Researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois are scouring more than 160 pounds (72 kg) of the Dominican amber for ancient fossils. When their work is completed, they will have the largest unbiased amber fossil collection in the world. The most valuable specimens will be digitized and made freely available on a website. The amber was collected by INHS entomologist Milton Sanderson in the late 1950s. Sanderson died in 2012.
For more information about the pygmy locust discovery: here.
For more information about the researchers’ work on the amber collection: here.
From Oregon State University in the USA:
Monkey business produces rare preserved blood in amber fossils
April 3, 2017
Summary: Two monkeys grooming each other about 20-30 million years ago may have helped produce a remarkable new find – the first fossilized red blood cells from a mammal, preserved so perfectly in amber that they appear to have been prepared for display in a laboratory.
Two monkeys grooming each other about 20-30 million years ago may have helped produce a remarkable new find — the first fossilized red blood cells from a mammal, preserved so perfectly in amber that they appear to have been prepared for display in a laboratory.
The discovery, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, also describes the only known fossils of a type of parasite that still exists today, Babesia microti, which infects the blood cells of humans and other animals.
Two small holes in the back of a blood-engorged tick, which allowed blood to ooze out just as the tick became stuck in tree sap that later fossilized into amber, provide a brief glimpse of life in a tropical jungle millions of years ago in what is now the Dominican Republic.
“These two tiny holes indicate that something picked a tick off the mammal it was feeding on, puncturing it in the process and dropping it immediately into tree sap,” said George Poinar, Jr., professor emeritus in the College of Science at Oregon State University, author of the study and an international expert on plant and animal life forms found preserved in amber.
“This would be consistent with the grooming behavior of monkeys that we know lived at that time in this region. The fossilized blood cells, infected with these parasites, are simply amazing in their detail. This discovery provides the only known fossils of Babesia-type pathogens.”
The fossil parasites add to the history of the Order Piroplasmida, of which the Babesiidae is one family. In humans, the parasite B. microti can cause babesiosis, a disease with symptoms that resemble malaria and can be fatal. A related parasite in cattle can cause Texas cattle fever, which has been a historic problem in the plains states, and just this spring is causing another outbreak that has led to quarantines on more than 500,000 acres of land in Texas.
“The life forms we find in amber can reveal so much about the history and evolution of diseases we still struggle with today,” Poinar said. “This parasite, for instance, was clearly around millions of years before humans, and appears to have evolved alongside primates, among other hosts.”
Part of what makes these fossils unique, Poinar said, is the clarity by which the parasites and blood cells are preserved, almost as if they had been stained and otherwise treated in a laboratory for inspection. The parasites were different enough in texture and density to stand out clearly within the red blood cells during the natural embalming process for which amber is famous.
A salamander found preserved in amber from the Dominican Republic is the first-ever fossil of its kind, and also shows that salamanders once lived in the Caribbean region, where they now are all extinct: here.
This video is called Howler Monkeys | National Geographic.
From Science News:
Howler monkeys may owe their color vision to leaf hue
Distinguishing red from green makes healthier leaves stand out
By Laurel Hamers
5:59pm, February 21, 2017
BOSTON — A taste for reddish young leaves might have pushed howler monkeys toward full-spectrum color vision. The ability to tell red from green could have helped howlers pick out the more nutritious, younger leaves, researchers reported February 19 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. That’s a skill their insect-eating close relatives probably didn’t need.
Primates show substantial variation in their color vision capabilities, both between and within species, said Amanda Melin, a biological anthropologist at the University of Calgary in Canada. Trichromatic vision (how most humans see) requires three light-sensitive proteins in the eye that can detect different wavelengths of light. Within most monkey species in Central and South America, only some individuals have trichromatic vision. Males have dichromatic vision — they’re red-green colorblind — and only some females can see the whole rainbow. Howlers are an exception — thanks to a duplicated gene on their X chromosomes, trichromatic vision is the norm for both males and females.
Howlers graze on leaves from Ficus trees and other plants when fruit can’t be found. In field observations of mantled howlers (Alouatta palliata) in Costa Rica, the monkeys preferentially munched on the younger, more nutritious leaves, Melin’s team found. The reddish hue of new leaves makes them pop more when seen with trichromatic vision than dichromatic vision, the researchers reported in a paper accepted for publication in Ecology and Evolution. Because young leaves are a fleeting treat and not a constant resource, monkeys able to spot them more quickly could have had a selective advantage.
Similar selection pressures might also help explain why Old World monkeys from Asia and Africa also have consistent trichromatic vision, Melin said. “What we might be seeing is a convergent evolution for animals who fall back on leaves when fruit isn’t around.”
On the other hand, other Central and South American monkeys usually go for insects, instead of leaves, when there’s no fruit. Dichromatic vision might be a better fit for their lifestyle, Melin said. “Color can impede ability to see patterns, borders and textures. Insects hide and camouflage.”
A new study analyzes the peculiar cranial structure and variability of the best-known species of South American howler monkey, Alouatta seniculus, using geometric models in three dimensions and multivariate statistics: here.
This video from the USA says about itself:
Jenny Tung | Humans, Health and Society | CEM
13 October 2016
Jenny Tung is an Assistant Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and Biology at Duke University and an affiliate of the Duke Population Research Institute. Jenny joined the Duke faculty in 2012 after completing her post-doctoral training in the University of Chicago Department of Human Genetics and her PhD training in the Duke Biology department.
Research in the Tung lab focuses on the intersection between behavior, social structure, and genes. The lab is particularly interested in how social environmental variables of known biodemographic importance, such as social status and social connectedness, feed back to influence gene regulation, population genetic structure, and individual fitness.
We primarily ask these questions in socially complex nonhuman primates, which are natural models for human behavior, physiology, and demography. Currently, most of our work centers on a longitudinally studied population of wild baboons in Kenya (Tung co-directs the Amboseli Baboon Research Project) and captive rhesus macaques at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center.
From Science News:
Low social status leads to off-kilter immune system
Monkey study reveals cellular and genetic hallmarks of inflammation
By Rachel Ehrenberg
2:00pm, November 24, 2016
Living on the bottom rungs of the social ladder may be enough to make you sick. A new study manipulating the pecking order of monkeys finds that low social status kicks the immune system into high gear, leading to unwanted inflammation akin to that in people with chronic diseases.
The new study, in the Nov. 25 Science, gets at an age-old question that’s been tough to study experimentally: Does social status alone change biology in a way that can make a person more healthy or more vulnerable to disease?
“We’ve known for years that human health and longevity are linked to socioeconomic status,” says Steve Cole, an expert in human social genomics at UCLA. This link often persists regardless of factors such as access to decent health care or clean water, but it’s hard to design studies to get at mechanism or causation, he says. “This study is very nice to see and it’s very consistent with other lines of research.”
To tease out the influence of rank on health, scientists turned to another highly social animal: the rhesus monkey. Evolutionary biologist Jenny Tung of Duke University and colleagues worked with 45 female monkeys at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center field station near Lawrenceville, Ga. The researchers arranged the monkeys into groups of five, adding monkeys one at a time, which reliably resulted in the oldest member dominating and the newest member having the lowest rank. These groups were maintained for a year during which the researchers noted behaviors and took blood samples to assess changes in cellular and gene activity associated with the monkeys’ social status.
Then the researchers rearranged the monkeys into different groups of five; this time grouping monkeys of the same social rank together. Again, the monkeys established pecking orders and the researchers observed behaviors and drew blood.
It was quite clear which monkeys were dominant and which were subordinate, says Tung. “The alpha female — no one’s messing with her,” Tung says. Low-ranking monkeys were harassed more and not only did they receive more flak, but they also lacked a shoulder to cry on. Subordinate monkeys participated far less in grooming behaviors, which typically promote feel-good social bonding.
The effects of rank turned out to be more than skin deep. Low-ranking monkeys had different proportions of immune system cells circulating in their blood, the researchers found. And gene activity within some of these cells was dialed up in the low-ranking monkeys. Together, the cellular and genomic activity resulted in a physiological profile that looks like chronic, harmful inflammation. This type of inflammation is the fertilizer that aids the development of many chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, metastatic cancers and cardiovascular disease, says Cole.
Cells from the monkeys that were exposed to a bit of bacterial toxin to mimic infection also responded differently based on the monkey’s rank, the team found. Overall, the findings add to a body of work detailing how low social standing leads to elevated stress that harms the body, says Robert Sapolsky of Stanford University, an expert on the physiological effects of stress in primates who wrote a perspective in the same issue of Science.
“At the end of the day, being a chronically subordinate nonhuman primate and being a human mired at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale are similar in the most fundamental ways,” Sapolsky says. “You have remarkably little control and predictability in your life, your outlets for frustration are limited, and it’s relatively hard to access social support. That’s the prescription for chronic, stress-related maladies.”
Monkeys have vocal tools, but not brains, to talk like humans. Videos of grunting, cooing show macaques could make key vowel, consonant sounds. By
Bruce Bower, 7:00am, December 19, 2016: here.
This video from India says about itself:
Monkey steals 10,000 rupees from jewellery shop (Guntur)
4 June 2016
From the Hindustan Times in India:
Monkey throws guava inside jewellery shop, ‘steals’ Rs 10,000 [about 130 euros] from cash box
June 05, 2016 11:24 IST
The incident was recorded by the shop’s CCTV cameras. The video was widely shared on social media on Sunday.
“The monkey threw a guava inside the shop. Then it entered the store in the pretext of taking back the fruit. We threw the fruit back but it entered the shop anyway,” the shop owner told ANI.
Once inside the shop, the monkey lost interest in reclaiming the fruit and advanced towards the cash drawers. …
Weeks back, it was rumored that money was falling from the skies in a temple in Vrindavan. Later, it was discovered that a monkey had grabbed a devotee’s purse and was spilling currency notes from the top of a tree.
KENYA SUFFERED A NATIONWIDE BLACKOUT Because a monkey fell into a hydroelectric power plant. [WaPo]
Scientists have helped a monkey with spinal cord damage walk again through a wireless connection.