Barbary Macaques Recognise Photos Of Their Friends
Adult monkeys recognise photographs of their friends, according to scientists.
In an experiment, untrained Barbary macaques showed interest in the photos and spent more time scrutinising pictures of unfamiliar animals.
Juvenile monkeys were fascinated but puzzled by the photographs. They often tried to greet or touch the animal in the image.
The findings suggest that the primates learn with age to understand that photos are representations of faces.
As well as adding to our knowledge of their intelligence, the findings, published in the journal Animal Cognition, could also help in future studies of primate behaviour.
"Now that we know [that they spontaneously recognise photographs], we won’t be limited to working in the lab and training the animals," said lead researcher Professor Julia Fischer, from the German Primate Center and Gottingen University in Germany.
"We will be able to study them in a much more natural captive setting, [studying their behaviour] by designing games for them to play."
She and her team observed macaques in wildlife park in Rocamadour, south-west France, where the animals are allowed to roam around an open landscape.
She and her students were using booklets containing photographs of the monkeys, which helped them to identify the individual animals they were studying.
"One of the monkeys grabbed a picture book and started looking at the pictures," recalled Professor Fischer.
"The student asked me, ‘do you think they recognise them?’ I said, I don’t know, let’s see."
She and her colleagues designed a simple experiment - showing the macaques pictures of their group members and of unfamiliar monkeys.
When adults monkeys were presented with a photo of a familiar face, they looked away quite quickly.
"Adult animals spent more time looking at unfamiliar animals, suggesting that they recognised their group members from the pictures" said Professor Fischer. "The juveniles didn’t show any difference - they were very interested in all the pictures."
The scientist said it was clear that the pictures puzzled the younger monkeys. They showed signs of unease, including scratching themselves.
"Some of them didn’t know what to do and they would even try to greet the pictures," Professor Fischer said. "That’s the lip-smacking behaviour you see in the videos."
The researchers were surprised that untrained monkeys took such an interest in photographs.
"We didn’t think they would respond like this," said Professor Fischer. ""We thought the pictures would not be relevant to them, [because] in their real lives, they don’t have anything like this."
Last month in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Virunga National Park, ranger Innocent Mburanumwe captured pictures of the first-time mother, Ruzuzi, appearing to grieve over her less-than-two-week-old baby. Ruzuzi kept the body with her for more than a week, according to Mburanumwe.
Gorillas have long been known to exhibit care for the dead. Mburanumwe, for instance, has seen behavior similar to that of Ruzuzi’s on at least three occasions.
Young gorillas and adult females gather around Ruzuzi and her dead baby in an act of apparent sympathy or possibly even ceremony in April. Sometimes, the family members made soft, crying noises, ranger Mburanumwe said.
At times, he said, “it was like they were trying to see if the baby could get up.”
Scientists generally resist the temptation to project human emotions on animals.
But watching the gorillas care for the dead baby, Mburanumwe said, he felt it was impossible to not draw similarities with people. “They were like human beings.”
A seven-month-old yellow baboon (Papio cynocephalus) carries a Galagos, also known as a bushbaby, at the Animal Orphanage in the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) headquarters in Nairobi, June 10, 2011. Defying nature, the Yellow Baboon, rescued in Maralal (northern Kenya), has quickly adopted a Galagos, rescued in Nyeri (central Kenya), after meeting at the orphanage, giving it affection and protection as if it were her own offspring.
This is what Palm Oil supports, and unfortunately, it is in almost everything we eat (as well as in a lot of cosmetics, etc) as it is so cheap. Bio-Fuel is also Palm Oil, and isn’t as environmentally friendly as we’ve been led to believe. Palm Oil is often listed as Vegetable Oil in the ingredient lists. However, there is growing pressure from Orangutan and environmental charities to have Palm Oil, rather than Vegetable Oil, listing compulsory. But what good will that do? If food is cheap and easy, people buy it. No one cares about the immense damage humans, as a species, inflict on the world and our fellow species. — Primate Win x
Young Chimps In The Wild Show Signs Of Doll Play, Report Finds
(Originally published December 2010)
It’s just days till Christmas, and many young girls around the world will be thrilled to find little dolls under the tree to play with.
But there is new evidence that it’s not only human girls who enjoy playing with imaginary babies — young apes may be showing the same behavior.
A research paper published Tuesday has found what its authors say is the first-ever evidence that young female chimpanzees in the wild “play” with sticks as if they are dolls.
"We find that juveniles tend to carry sticks in a manner suggestive of rudimentary doll play," they write in the current issue of Current Biology. "And, as in children and captive monkeys, this behavior is more common in females than in males."
The team of researchers watched and logged the Kanyawara group of chimpanzees in the Kibale National Park in Uganda for more than a decade.
They were surprised to see young female chimpanzees carrying around sticks, apparently mimicking the way that mothers in the group cared for their own infants. The behavior would go on for up to hours at a time.
"The juveniles carried pieces of bark, small logs or woody vine, with their hand or mouth, underarm or, most commonly, tucked between the abdomen and thigh," they wrote. "Individuals carried sticks for periods of one minute to more than four hours during which they rested, walked, climbed, slept and fed as usual."
Co-authors Sonya Kahlenberg of Bates College and Richard Wrangham of Harvard University found that such behavior was witnessed only rarely among young male chimpanzees, pointing to the controversial idea that differences in play behavior even in other primate species may be gender-driven.
Boy chimpanzees typically used sticks as weapons, shaking them to intimidate playmates. But just like human boys with “action figures,” young male chimpanzees were sometimes seen playing with dolls as well.
The Slow Loris has a toxic bite. When a gland on their arm is licked, the secretion mixes with saliva, and activates. As part of grooming, a mother Slow Loris will lick this toxin onto the coat of her young, in order to protect them from predators.
People have internal thoughts – we know that, because we think them. But it can also be confirmed by neuroimaging studies; which have revealed that our brains have a “default mode of activity”.
Now we might expect that when the brain is actively thinking, the brain itself becomes more active. That’s true.
But some areas of the brain actually become more active when resting than when they are performing a specific cognitive task. These areas lie at the front and toward the back of the brain, as well as within, and go by names such as the medial prefrontal and medial parietal areas, and the posterior cingulate cortex.
This higher activity is what researchers believe to be the brain’s “default system”. It has been confirmed by neuroimaging techniques including PET (positron emission tomography) scans.
Other studies have also confirmed the presence of this default mode. During a period of rest, blood flow and metabolic activity is higher in these brain areas. This default brain activity also appears to be disturbed in psychiatric patients and people with Alzheimer’s disease.
A number of studies have connected this default brain activity with what scientists call “internal thought processes”. These might include the recall of certain memories about one’s life, ideas that relate particularly to one’s self, thinking about concepts or the meaning of things, considering one’s environment, emotional state or body image, or simply just letting one’s mind wander.
Studies also show these brain areas become less active when a person is performing a specific task. In essence, internal thoughts are suppressed while other parts of the brain get on with doing something specific.
Which brings us back to whether monkeys have similar internal thoughts?
Do monkeys, or other primates, think about themselves? Do they reflect, worry, remember, or consider an idea forming in their minds?
In short, do monkeys wonder? Because if they can, our view of monkeys needs to change. Quite profoundly I’d say.
It would mean that we should no longer be surprised that a monkey has found a new way to crack anut, as we’d acknowledge it had probably been considering the idea for a while.
It would mean that we must accept that these animals too might be concerned for the welfare of their kin, or that they might recall a childhood memory.
When we visit a zoo and look into a monkey’s eyes, wondering what it is thinking, it might even be looking at us right back, wondering exactly the same.
That has some pretty profound implications for the status we give these creatures, and whether we choose to exploit or protect them, care for them and respect them.
So to help answer the question I want to report some results published as part of a scientific review conducted by Dr Masataka Watanabe of the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science in Japan.
He tells me that a recent neuroimaging study on anaesthetised monkeys suggested that they too have a default mode of brain activity. A study on awake macaques, published in 2009, shows that monkeys suppress neuronal activity in the posterior cingulate cortex when they are performing a task, while another study on chimpanzees, an ape more closely related to us, suggested that their brains, when resting, retrieve memories and may be involved in some level of mental self-projection.
But no-one had actually performed any neuroimaging to measure whether awake monkeys have the same “default” brain activity that people do.
So Dr Watanabe and colleagues did PET scans of the brains of awake Japanese macaques. They also measured the blood flowing within the key brain areas associated with having internal thought processes.
In all three monkeys tested this way, their brains showed a similar pattern to humans.
“Similar to the human default system, all monkeys showed higher rest-related activity in the medial prefrontal and medial periatal areas,” writes Dr Watanabe in the journal Behavioural Brain Research.
In Dr Watanabe’s words: “That suggests that there might be internal thought processes in the monkey.”
Chimpanzees Find Yawning Contagious, Too - If They Are Friends
23 adult chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) were separated into two groups, and were shown videos of familiar chimpanzees both yawning, and just going about their usual business, as well as videos of unfamiliar chimpanzees.
The video of the familiar chimapanzee yawning resulted in the subjects yawning - while the video of the familiar chimpanzee just being a chimpanzee showed no effect.
When the video showed an un-familiar chimpanzee yawning, there was no detectable effect amongst the subjects.
Contagious yawning is thought to be based on the capacity for empathy. Contagious yawning in chimpanzees provides further evidence that these apes may possess advanced self-awareness and empathic abilities.
European Union on Wednesday ruled to ban animal testing on primates — including chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and orangutans — as it tries to scale back the number of animals used in scientific research.
After two years of intense debate on how to protect animal welfare without hindering scientific research, the European Parliament agreed to cut back the number of animal tests in Europe and enforce stricter regulations for animal use in research.
Under the new legislation, experiments on great apes are to be banned and strict regulations set on the use of primates in general.
Members of the 27-nation union have been given two years to comply with the rulings. They also need to “ensure that whenever an alternative method is available, this is used instead of animal testing.” And they must find ways to reduce the “level of pain inflicted on animals.”
Old World monkeys have better numerical skills than previously thought, researchers have discovered.
In a basic numeracy test, long-tailed macaques were able to work out which of two plates contained more raisins.
Strangely, they only excelled in this test if they were not allowed to eat the raisins they were shown.
The scientists report in the journal Nature Communications that the animals have the ability to understand the concept of relative quantities.
The team of researchers from the German Primate Center in Goettingen initially tested the macaques by showing them two plates containing different numbers of raisins. When the animals spontaneously pointed to one of the plates, they were fed the raisins.
But in this test, the monkeys often got it wrong - choosing the smaller amount.
Lead researcher Vanessa Schmitt said that this was because, rather than thinking about quantities, the animals were thinking about how much they wanted to eat the raisins.
New Study Shows That Gay Orangutans Are More Common Than Previously Thought
A recent study shows that homosexual behaviors in orangutans occur more frequently and could possibly mean that there are more homosexual orangutans than we previously thought. The study by Smith et al. (2011) found that, statistically, 1 out of 10 orangutans are actually gay. One of the example from the study described two male Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) whom the authors believe are “totally gay”.
Two male Sumatran orangutans were first observed making a nest together for the night. Orangutans make makeshift nests to sleep at night which they abandon during the day. Every night, orangutans make a new nest. Not only was it peculiar that two male orangutans would sleep together in the same nest, they seem to have taken a liking to their nesting site as well. The duo returned to their nest every night to sleep and would leave together during the day to forage for food, swinging side by side.