August 28, 2012

abnormallyspeaking:

Why are there still chimpanzees? 

Biologist Richard Dawkins clears up a popular misunderstanding of evolution: “If we evolved from chimpanzees, how come there are still chimpanzees?”

(Source: , via fyeahgreatapes)

August 17, 2012
neurosciencestuff:

New genetic data shows humans and great apes diverged earlier than thought
To calculate when a species diverged, researchers look at the average age of members of the species when they give birth and mutation rates. The older the average age, the more time it takes for mutations to cause changes. Insects that produce offspring in a matter of months, for example, can adapt much more quickly to environmental changes than large animals that produce offspring many years after they themselves are born. To find such data for both chimps and gorillas, the research team worked with many groups in Africa that included studies of the animals that totaled 105 gorillas and 226 chimps. They also looked at fossilized excrement that contained DNA data. In so doing they found that the average age of giving birth for female chimps was 25 years old. They then divided the number of mutations found by the average age of birth to get the mutation rate. In so doing, they found it to be slower than humans, which meant that estimates based on it to calculate divergence times were likely off by as much as a million years.
The end result of the team’s research indicates that humans and chimps likely diverged some seven to eight million years ago, while the divergence of gorillas (which led to both humans and chimps) came approximately eight to nineteen million years ago. To put the numbers in perspective, humans and Neanderthals split just a half to three quarters of a million years ago.

neurosciencestuff:

New genetic data shows humans and great apes diverged earlier than thought

To calculate when a species diverged, researchers look at the average age of members of the species when they give birth and mutation rates. The older the average age, the more time it takes for mutations to cause changes. Insects that produce offspring in a matter of months, for example, can adapt much more quickly to environmental changes than large animals that produce offspring many years after they themselves are born. To find such data for both chimps and gorillas, the research team worked with many groups in Africa that included studies of the animals that totaled 105 gorillas and 226 chimps. They also looked at fossilized excrement that contained DNA data. In so doing they found that the average age of giving birth for female chimps was 25 years old. They then divided the number of mutations found by the average age of birth to get the mutation rate. In so doing, they found it to be slower than humans, which meant that estimates based on it to calculate divergence times were likely off by as much as a million years.

The end result of the team’s research indicates that humans and chimps likely diverged some seven to eight million years ago, while the divergence of gorillas (which led to both humans and chimps) came approximately eight to nineteen million years ago. To put the numbers in perspective, humans and Neanderthals split just a half to three quarters of a million years ago.

(via fyeahgreatapes)

May 28, 2012

Here are Darwin’s complete publications, digitised and made available online :)

April 20, 2012
Dr. Derek Wildman Completes Genome Sequence Of Great Ape Who Understands English, Plays Music

A Wayne State University School of Medicine researcher is one step closer to understanding the genetic basis that enable bonobos, one of humankind’s sibling species, to learn language, play music and use rudimentary tools.

Derek Wildman, Ph.D., led a team that isolated the DNA and sequenced the genome, or whole inherited genetic make-up, of Kanzi, a bonobo based at the Bonobo Hope Great Ape Trust Sanctuary in Des Moines, Iowa. The sequencing, only the second of its kind, was performed at both WSU and an off-site private company.

Dr. Wildman is associate professor of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, and of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He is the director of the Molecular Evolution Group at WSU’s Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics.

Kanzi, 32, was raised from birth in a family of five humans and eight bonobos, and was trained to use and understand simple spoken English to communicate. He also plays music, makes fire, cooks simple meals, and makes and uses flint knives. The goal of sequencing Kanzi’s genome is to understand the unique abilities of Kanzi and the other bonobos living at the sanctuary.

“We can compare Kanzi’s genome to the genomes of humans, and other primates in order to see what is unique about Kanzi from a genetic perspective,” Dr. Wildman said. “We also can see what Kanzi shares with other primates. Because we have also sequenced his transcriptome we can build gene models that are more accurate, and we can see which genes are expressed in his blood, and in the placenta of Kanzi’s son, Teco. This is a very important first step in untangling nature from nurture in the cognitive development of bonobos.”

Read More at Prognosis E News

April 2, 2012
Prof. Finlay Examines Primate Visual System Evolution

Deep in the Brazilian rainforests, Prof. Barbara Finlay, psychology, observes the behavior of various species of primates in order to understand the evolution and development of the how primates see. Finlay takes an “evo-devo” approach to understanding and analyzing the visual system, building from the basic concept that all evolution comes from development. Her work with primates explores the intricate relationship between evolution and development.

Her work has taken her all over the world–London, Berlin, New Zealand–but her most significant work has been in Belém, Brazil. Since 1995, she has collaborated with Luiz Carlos de Lima Silveira, the Federal University of Pará, researching the evolution of monkey vision through a comparative study of the different kinds of New World primates found there, ranging from pygmy marmosets to capuchin monkeys.

One particularly interesting subject in this project is the owl monkey because it is the only monkey that has regained nocturnal sight. The owl monkey’s eyes are similar to those of their nocturnal lemur ancestors in that they are relatively large and contain a substantial amount of rods, which are receptors in the eye that enable night vision. Finlay’s team set out to determine the cause of this divergence by examining the monkeys’ embryos at specific points of development; it discovered that a variety of different cell structures could be caused by just one very early developmental change, like tampering with the timing of cells leaving the ‘stem cell pool’ and becoming specialized.

These findings begin to tackle the larger question of how evolution is able to occur in seemingly evolved creatures. Development is a means of building on current resources and environmental challenges, and organisms have to evolve in order to exploit certain niche opportunities. “Anyone belonging to a species that’s still here has gone through the filter of being evolvable,” Finlay said.

March 24, 2012

Self-recognition in the great apes. A short clip from a Nat Geo tv show, which compares the development of human self-recognition to that of the apes - turns out it’s almost exactly the same. Also, this has some super cute infant Chimpanzee footage ;) 

March 20, 2012
rhamphotheca:

Study Suggests Why Our Ancestors Switched to Bipedal Power
by PhysOrg staff
Our earliest ancestors may have started walking on two limbs instead of four in a bid to monopolise resources and to carry as much food as possible in one go, researchers have found.
A study published in the journal Current Biology this week, investigated the behaviour of modern-day chimpanzees as they competed for food resources, in an effort to understand why our “hominin”, or “human-like” ancestors became bipedal.
Its findings suggest that chimpanzees switch to moving on two limbs instead of four in situations where they need to monopolize a resource, usually because it may not occur in plentiful supply in their habitat, making it hard for them to predict when they will see it again. Standing on two legs allows them to carry much more in one go because it frees up their hands…
(read more: PhyOrg)      (photo: W.C.M. McGrew)
____________________________
 * The full report, Chimpanzee carrying behavior and the origins of human bipedality, is available in the Mar. 20 issue of Current Biology:
http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822%2812%2900082-6
Provided by University of Cambridge (news : web)

rhamphotheca:

Study Suggests Why Our Ancestors Switched to Bipedal Power

by PhysOrg staff

Our earliest ancestors may have started walking on two limbs instead of four in a bid to monopolise resources and to carry as much food as possible in one go, researchers have found.

A study published in the journal Current Biology this week, investigated the behaviour of modern-day chimpanzees as they competed for food resources, in an effort to understand why our “hominin”, or “human-like” ancestors became bipedal.

Its findings suggest that chimpanzees switch to moving on two limbs instead of four in situations where they need to monopolize a resource, usually because it may not occur in plentiful supply in their habitat, making it hard for them to predict when they will see it again. Standing on two legs allows them to carry much more in one go because it frees up their hands…

(read more: PhyOrg)      (photo: W.C.M. McGrew)

____________________________

* The full report, Chimpanzee carrying behavior and the origins of human bipedality, is available in the Mar. 20 issue of Current Biology:

http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822%2812%2900082-6

Provided by University of Cambridge (news : web)

March 12, 2012

umzoology:

Primates

I received a request for some comparative pictures of primate skulls, so here you go! 
Left to right (and largest to smallest):

Hylobates syndactylus (Siamang [gibbon]) 
Lagothrix lagotricha  (brown/common/Humboldt’s woolly monkey)
Alouatta sp.  (Howler monkey sp.)
Cebus sp.  (Capuchin sp.)
Aotus trivirgatus  (the adorable three-striped night monkey/night monkey/owl monkey, shot in the face while burrowing in its tree)
Saimiri sciureus (Common squirrel monkey)
Saguinus nigricollis  (Black-mantled tamarin)
Callithrix chrysoleuca  (Golden-white tassel-ear Marmoset) 

If you’d like to see some more primate pictures, I posted about some of these guys last week in my Monkey Sale post. 

In other museum news, I am currently halfway through transposing some original cassette tapes of Dr. Philip Wright himself conducting a tour and interview in the collection!  We haven’t pinpointed the exact date yet, but the recording was completed anywhere from 1989-1991.  It is pretty fascinating, so here’s a great quote from Phil about his future worries of the collection (it was not named for him until after his death in 1997): 

“All I’m trying to say is that, the result is, that this —these specimens which we have here, the – the total value of them, in the scientific world, is — there’s of course nobody that values them more highly than I do. And if you were to say, suppose then this museum burned down? I mean.. What.. how could you replace this material? What!? Oh, no. Impossible. Here – much of this material here is totally irreplaceable.”

(Source: thebrainscoop)

March 7, 2012
rhamphotheca:

Sequencing of Gorilla Genome Suggests Similarities
by Elizabeth Pennisi
Ever since the human genome was sequenced a decade ago, researchers have dreamed about deciphering DNA from our three great ape cousins as well. Now the final remaining genome, that of the gorilla, is in hand, and it reveals interesting connections between us and them. Surprisingly, parts of our genome are more similar to the gorilla’s than they are to the chimp’s, and a few of the same genes previously thought key to our unique evolution are key to theirs, too.
Today there are four groups of great apes: chimps and bonobos, humans, gorillas, and orangutans. The genome of the chimp—our closest relative—was published in 2005; the orangutan sequence came out in early 2011. Now researchers have analyzed the DNA of a western lowland gorilla named Kamilah, who lives at the San Diego Zoo. In addition, they sequenced DNA from three other gorillas, including one eastern lowland gorilla, a rare species estimated at only 20,000 individuals.
“It’s essential to have all of the great ape genomes in order to understand the features of our own genome that make humans unique,” says Gregory Wray, an evolutionary biologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who was not involved in the study. Adds paleoanthropologist David Begun of the University of Toronto in Canada: “It will allow us to begin to identify genetic changes specific to humans since our divergence from chimps.”
Humans and apes are nearly identical in the vast majority of base pairs, or letters of the genetic code: The human genome is 1.37% different from the chimp’s; 1.75% different from the gorilla’s; and 3.4% different from the orangutan’s, researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, U.K., and their colleagues report today in Nature. Although chimps and humans are indeed closest kin, 15% of the human genome more closely matches the gorilla’s. Those genes’ activity patterns are similar too, says Sanger evolutionary genomicist and lead author of the study Aylwyn Scally: “Some of our functional biology is more gorillalike than chimplike.”…
(read more: Science NOW)     (image: San Diego Safari Park)

rhamphotheca:

Sequencing of Gorilla Genome Suggests Similarities

by Elizabeth Pennisi

Ever since the human genome was sequenced a decade ago, researchers have dreamed about deciphering DNA from our three great ape cousins as well. Now the final remaining genome, that of the gorilla, is in hand, and it reveals interesting connections between us and them. Surprisingly, parts of our genome are more similar to the gorilla’s than they are to the chimp’s, and a few of the same genes previously thought key to our unique evolution are key to theirs, too.

Today there are four groups of great apes: chimps and bonobos, humans, gorillas, and orangutans. The genome of the chimp—our closest relative—was published in 2005; the orangutan sequence came out in early 2011. Now researchers have analyzed the DNA of a western lowland gorilla named Kamilah, who lives at the San Diego Zoo. In addition, they sequenced DNA from three other gorillas, including one eastern lowland gorilla, a rare species estimated at only 20,000 individuals.

“It’s essential to have all of the great ape genomes in order to understand the features of our own genome that make humans unique,” says Gregory Wray, an evolutionary biologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who was not involved in the study. Adds paleoanthropologist David Begun of the University of Toronto in Canada: “It will allow us to begin to identify genetic changes specific to humans since our divergence from chimps.”

Humans and apes are nearly identical in the vast majority of base pairs, or letters of the genetic code: The human genome is 1.37% different from the chimp’s; 1.75% different from the gorilla’s; and 3.4% different from the orangutan’s, researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, U.K., and their colleagues report today in Nature. Although chimps and humans are indeed closest kin, 15% of the human genome more closely matches the gorilla’s. Those genes’ activity patterns are similar too, says Sanger evolutionary genomicist and lead author of the study Aylwyn Scally: “Some of our functional biology is more gorillalike than chimplike.”…

(read more: Science NOW)     (image: San Diego Safari Park)

February 12, 2012
Timeline of Evolution

shizumataka:

A wonderful timeline of the evolution of life on Earth. 

(Source: anthrojoyce)

4:29pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Z8EaJxGIdTdy
  
Filed under: Evolution Science