I Recieved This Email Today, From Orangutan Outreach. This Is Shocking, Upsetting And Very, Very Urgent. PLEASE SIGN!
Orangutan Outreach is forwarding this URGENT message to you
on behalf of Dr. Ian Singleton and our friends & colleagues at
the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.
Orangutan lives are at stake! Palm oil companies have started burning the forest and it is estimated that 100 orangutans have already been murdered as a result. It is critically important to take action NOW!
An Online Petition is up and running to stop the destruction in Tripa and the extinction of its orangutans. Please help by signing and distributing the petition to all your networks. YOUR support will determine the future of this Indonesian forest. All we want is for the Indonesian government to uphold its own laws.
One of Washoe’s caretakers was pregnant and missed work for many weeks after she miscarried. Roger Fouts recounts the following situation:
"People who should be there for her and aren’t are often given the cold shoulder—her way of informing them that she’s miffed at them. Washoe greeted Kat [the caretaker] in just this way when she finally returned to work with the chimps. Kat made her apologies to Washoe, then decided to tell her the truth, signing "MY BABY DIED." Washoe stared at her, then looked down. She finally peered into Kat’s eyes again and carefully signed "CRY", touching her cheek and drawing her finger down the path a tear would make on a human. (Chimpanzees don’t shed tears.) Kat later remarked that that one sign told her more about Washoe and her mental capabilities than all her longer, grammatically perfect sentences."
(Note: Washoe herself lost two children; one baby died shortly after birth of a heart defect, the other baby, Sequoyah, died of a staph infection at two months of age.)
Conflict management is crucial for social group cohesion, and while humans may still be working out some of the details, new research shows that some chimpanzees engage in impartial, third-party “policing” activity as well.
Conflicts are inevitable wherever there is cohabitation. This is no different with our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. Sound conflict management is crucial for group cohesion. Individuals in chimpanzee communities also ensure that there is peace and order in their group. This form of conflict management is called “policing” – the impartial intervention of a third party in a conflict. Until now, this morally motivated behavior in chimpanzees was only ever documented anecdotally. However, primatologists from the University of Zurich can now confirm that chimpanzees intervene impartially in a conflict to guarantee the stability of their group. They therefore exhibit prosocial behavior based on an interest in community concern.
“I don’t believe in evolution any more than I believe in gravity. Evolution is a fact. It is the best explanation for the diversity of life on this planet. It does not take belief because it can be investigated through the scientific method. Observations can be repeated. It is as powerful a theory as is the theory of gravity - for explaining, in this case, the diversity of life.”—Donald Johanson (via protostellar)
A book review of The Primate Mind: Built to Connect with Other Minds (February 9th issue) discusses the recent research on our primate cousins –apes that are a lot more socially intelligent than scientists once thought. The book, edited by primatologist Frans de Waal and ethologist Pier Francesco Ferrari, is a collection of papers presented at a conference they organized in 2009.
Christian Keyser writes in his Nature review that ‘monkey see, monkey do’ has never needed more of an overhaul. In the last ten years field studies have shown that monkeys and apes have “remarkably sophisticated social minds, and that their poor performance in social tasks set by humans was more a result of researchers asking the wrong questions than deficiencies in their experimental subjects.”
"If apes see a man pressing a button with his head because his hands are occupied holding a blanket, they will press the button with their hands. Apes thus demonstrate something smarter than simple imitation — the ability to infer why a person is doing something in a particular way. But if the man’s hands are not occupied, giving the ape no clue as to why the person would push a button with his head, chimpanzees tend also to use their heads. It is one of many illustrations of how easy it is to misinterpret experimental results: the apes’ ability to copy the details of an action only when it makes sense was misinterpreted as an inability to imitate fine details."
As a consequence, Keyser writes, we’re even less special than we thought:
"One by one, claims to human uniqueness have fallen. Other essays by de Waal and anthropologists Brian Hare and Jingzhi Tan show that our primate cousins share empathy and the inclination to cooperate. Apes console other apes after conflict. Chimps overcome their fear of water to save a drowning chimp. Monkeys can favour actions that benefit other monkeys. Apes even recruit other apes to collaborate with them, and will negotiate a fair distribution of pay-offs."
And this is ironic. In the very next issue of Nature (Feburary 16th), evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel at University of Reading in the UK arguesthat in spite of these social abilities among other animals, only humans evolved a means of intuiting or guessing what their fellows were thinking–and this changed the game.
“I suggest that around 160,000–200,000 years ago,” he writes, “our capacity for culture created a social crisis to which ultra-sociality was the evolutionary solution. That crisis was visual theft–the capacity to steal others’ ideas.”
According to Pagel, the human capacity for culture rests on two building blocks which –combined– generated an unbridgeable gap in the evolutionary “potential” between humans and all the other species: social learning and a working ‘theory of mind’.
Chimpanzee populations living in close proximity are substantially more different genetically than humans living on different continents, according to a study published in PLoS Genetics. Research conducted by scientists from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the Centre Pasteur du Cameroun, and the Biomedical Primate Research Centre suggests that genomics can provide a valuable tool for chimpanzee conservation, with the potential to identify the population of origin of an individual chimpanzee or the provenance of a sample of bush meat.