Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Baboons In Mourning Seek Comfort Among Friends

When Sylvia the baboon lost Sierra, her closest grooming partner and daughter, to a lion, she responded in a way that would be considered very human-like: she looked to friends for support. According to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, baboons physiologically respond to bereavement in ways similar to humans, with an increase in stress hormones called glucocorticoids. Baboons can lower their glucocorticoid levels through friendly social contact, expanding their social network after the loss of specific close companions.

"At the time of Sierra's death, we considered Sylvia to be the queen of mean. She is a very high-ranking, 23 year-old monkey who was, at best, disdainful of females other than Sierra," said Anne Engh, a postdoctoral researcher in Penn's Department of Biology. "With Sierra gone, Sylvia experienced what could only really be described as depression, corresponding with an increase in her glucocorticoid levels."

Engh works with Penn biologist Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth, a professor in Penn's Department of Psychology. For the last 14 years, Cheney and Seyfarth have followed a troop of more than 80 free-ranging baboons in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. Their research explores the mechanisms that might be the basis of primate social relationships and how such relationships may have influenced the development of human social relationships, intelligence and language.

To study the response of stress among baboons, Engh and her colleagues examined the glucocorticoid levels and grooming behavior of females in the troop to see how closely they resemble patterns seen in humans. Their findings were published in a recent article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biological Sciences.

Grooming, a friendly behavior where baboons clean each other's fur, is the primary means by which baboons strengthen social bonds. According to Engh, while the death of a close family member was clearly stressful over the short term, the females they studied appeared to compensate for this loss by broadening and strengthening their grooming networks. As they resumed grooming, their glucocorticoid levels returned to normal.

" Without Sierra, Sylvia really had nobody else," Engh said. "So great was her need for social bonding that Sylvia began grooming with a female of a much lower status, behavior that would otherwise be beneath her."

Through her study, Engh was able to track patterns in stress of the female baboons over time through their glucocorticoid levels. Their stress levels increased most often during events when their lives, the lives of their offspring and their social rankings were at risk. The leading cause of death among adult baboons is predation, usually from leopards and lions. The stress levels of female baboons increased most noticeably when a predator killed a close companion, such as a grooming partner or offspring. If they merely witness another baboon die they do not become as agitated.

Story here.

Two More Cases of Monkey Fever Reported

Two more persons have been confirmed of ailing from Monkey fever in the taluk, said the Taluk Health Officer here on Monday January 30. However, necessary precautionary measures have been taken to stop the disease from spreading to others, said the district Health and Family Welfare officer.

It is reported that 3 monkeys were found dead at Yennemajal of Balpa village in the Panja Primary Health Centre limits. So the blood samples of 11 persons of the area have been sent to the lab for check up and the viscera of the dead monkeys have also been sent for the autopsy.

A temporary clinic along with vehicle facility and medical staff has been opened in the compound of the school at Yennemajal. Already 1,073 persons have been given KFD vaccine as a precautionary measure. The health officer has also appealed the residents of nearby villages to get themselves injected with KDF, as there are chances that the disease may spread to the surrounding areas too.

Story here.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Malaysian state of Johor officially organizes an attempt to track down "Ape Man"

The government of the Malaysian state of Johor says it is to organise an attempt to track down a legendary ape man reputed to roam its jungles.

After a spate of sightings, Johor's chief minister says he will launch an official search for the beast, dubbed Malaysia's Big Foot by local media.

Malaysians have a long-standing love affair with anything big.

The obsessions resulted in record-breaking buildings, bridges, even piles of food.

Now they have gone crazy for Big Foot, known in local legend as Hantu Jarang Gigi - ghosts with widely spaced teeth.

The country has been gripped since November when three fishery workers claimed to have seen a Big Foot family that left footprints up to 45cm long.

Conservationists say that damage to branches suggested that the creatures could have been up to 3m tall.

There were similar sightings by members of the local indigenous minority who said they had seen a 'King Kong' covered in black fur.

Now, the chief minister of Johor, Abdul Ghani Othman, says a proper scientific expedition will track Big Foot's big foot-prints.

He is setting up two teams, one of which will scour likely locations, including the densely forested Endau Rompin National Park.

Mr Abdul Ghani says Malaysia is the first country in the world to openly welcome such an attempt. However, he says it is important that the expedition should not harm or frighten the creatures.

Story here.

A moment of baby gorilla zen...

2 Monkeys Die In UConn Research

Two of three monkeys being used in research projects at the University of Connecticut Health Center have died.

A report to UConn President Philip E. Austin said that one of the monkeys was euthanized at the end of a neuroscience study as part of the experiment protocol. The other died during the research "although it received proper veterinary attention and treatment," the report said.

A graduate student who has been protesting using the monkeys in research was upset to learn of the deaths when Austin forwarded him the report. Austin was responding to student Justin Goodman's request to stop experimenting and transfer the monkeys to an animal sanctuary. Austin had requested more information about the research.

The timing of the deaths was unclear. UConn officials say the monkeys have been treated humanely and that the laboratory protocol meets high federal standards. In addition, the university plans to continue the neuroscience research, which it says could help in the diagnosis and treatment of stroke and other ailments.

A third monkey is being studied now and a fourth has not yet been brought into the neuroscience experiment, but is housed at the Health Center in Farmington.

Goodman chained himself to a wrought iron fence outside the Wilbur Cross building as he and about a dozen others protested Wednesday outside a UConn 125th anniversary ceremony in Storrs Wednesday.

Story here.

Monkey Cops Keep Groups in Line

New research reveals that monkey cops help keep social groups in line.

Not having guns or nightsticks, they leverage their group seniority, craft intimidating reputations and count on good voter turnout.

Take the primate police out of a group, as researchers did, and the rest get more violent and aggressive. Interaction between cliques drops significantly.

"It's not just that violence goes up, but a whole range of behavior involving a whole range of individuals suddenly disappears," said David Krakauer of the Santa Fe Institute. "It's like saying you take police out of human society, and all of a sudden people stop going to the opera, or something more important."

The study, detailed in today's issue of the journal Nature, also uncovered a complex monkey "voting" system for appointing the peacekeepers

Pigtailed macaque monkeys, Macaca nemestrina, don't just pull into town like Wyatt Earp or Dirty Harry and take over. They have to be "appointed" to the position.

Instead of a paper ballot, inferior monkeys bare their teeth to a more dominant member of the group.

"It's like they're saying, ‘You don't have to beat me up to establish your dominance, I'm simply telling you that you are,'" Krakauer told LiveScience.

When an individual receives these voting signals from most of the group, it shows he is well respected—or feared—and he becomes the new sheriff in town.

In general, the larger and more senior monkeys are voted into the policing role.

But having a gang to back you up counts for something, too. A single Schwarzenegger-like monkey may not receive as many "votes" from the group as a smaller individual with several brothers.

Once elected, police monkeys earn certain rights and responsibilities, one of which is to peacefully settles conflicts. They usually do this by stepping between combatants or chasing bad monkeys away. Very rarely do they need to dish out a whooping, but their actions are always respected by the group.

When Krakauer and his colleagues removed the police force—which in this case consisted of three males, but can also include females—they saw a drastic change in a once peaceful, interactive society.

The creatures split into cliques, mostly based on tight family relationships or friendships, and then interacted about as well as high school jocks and band geeks.

"The policers are indirectly providing the security needed for complex forms of social interaction to take place," Krakauer said. "The monkeys are afraid of approaching each other if the policers are not there to resolve a potential conflict."

Story here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A moment of monkey skating zen...

Mice studies show potential of chimp/human smallpox vaccine

Results from a new study indicate that hybrid laboratory antibodies derived from chimpanzees and humans may provide a potentially safe and effective way to treat the serious complications that can occur following smallpox vaccination--and possibly may even protect against the deadly disease itself. The study, led by researchers with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), appears online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

A worldwide immunization program officially eradicated naturally occurring smallpox disease in 1980. However, concerns of a bioterror attack involving the highly contagious and fatal virus have prompted researchers to search for new smallpox vaccines and treatments.

The currently licensed smallpox vaccine consists of a live but weakened strain of vaccinia virus, a relative of the variola virus that causes smallpox. Vaccinia immunization has been proven effective in generating immunity against smallpox virus and other orthopoxviruses, including monkeypox and cowpox.

Although most reactions to the vaccinia virus are mild, the vaccine can cause serious and even life-threatening complications in individuals with weakened immune systems or skin conditions such as eczema, in infants younger than 12 months and in pregnant women. Health care providers currently treat smallpox vaccine complications with anti-vaccinia immune globulin (VIG)--pooled antibodies taken from the blood of individuals immunized with the smallpox vaccine. However, VIG is in short supply since the United States discontinued its public smallpox vaccination program in 1972.

NIAID-funded researchers have been working to develop alternatives to VIG based on antibodies they created in the laboratory. The study appearing online this week in PNAS details how senior authors Robert H. Purcell, M.D., co-chief of NIAID's Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, and Bernard Moss, M.D., chief of NIAID's Laboratory of Viral Diseases, and their collaborators developed hybrid antibodies from chimpanzees and humans that effectively inhibited the spread of both vaccinia and variola viruses in test tube experiments. Moreover, the hybrid antibodies proved more effective than VIG when tested in mice infected with vaccinia virus, even when given two days after virus exposure.

"This is an important finding in the race to develop effective measures against a potential bioterror attack involving the deadly smallpox virus," says NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.

Story here.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Big Brother coat not gorilla fur, but made from colobus monkeys

Police have confirmed a coat worn by singer Pete Burns on Celebrity Big Brother was not made from gorilla fur, but originates from colobus monkeys.

Officers took the coat following complaints Burns had boasted of it being gorilla, which could have been a of breach of endangered animals laws.

The matter has been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether the coat contravenes importation rules.

Story here.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Police seize Big Brother gorilla fur coat

Police have seized a "gorilla coat" belonging to Celebrity Big Brother contestant Pete Burns.

Officers from the Hertfordshire Constabulary took the coat from the Big Brother house on Thursday after a number of complaints from viewers.

A spokeswoman for the force said: "The coat will now be tested."

Last week a government minister warned Burns could face jail for wearing a gorilla fur. Owning a gorilla skin without a permit is illegal in the UK.

Burns said the coat was made from gorilla fur when he entered the Big Brother house at the start of the series in early January.

The police spokeswoman added: "Following a number of complaints from members of the public regarding a coat taken into the Big Brother house by Pete Burns, the coat in question has been handed across to police officers from Herts Constabulary."

Story here.

Chico the monkey celebrates 36 years

Chico the monkey celebrates his 36th birthday with a party at The Animal Kingdom Pet Center in Chicago.

Owner Bob Hoffman raised Chico from infancy and says he is one of a handful of organ grinder monkeys left in the United States. He has been monkeying around Chicago for a long time and he goes ape every time his friends throw him a birthday party.

Every year on January 17 at Animal Kingdom on North Milwaukee Avenue, they plan a big party for Chico and then they have to make a monkey shine.

"Well, Chico's getting a bath so he's ready for his 36th birthday party. He was born January 17th, 1970," said Bob Hoffmann, Owner of Animal Kingdom.

"I am cutting up some fruit for our birthday boy today. I've grown up with Chico since he was nine months old so this is like my best friend's birthday party," said Steve Maciontek, G.M. Animal Kingdom.

Bob Hoffmann has been throwing a party for Chico for about the last ten years. His customers love it, Chico loves it and besides, Chico isn't getting any younger.

"At 36 years old it's not really unheard of but that's really getting up there. It's like a human being in their mid seventies. So he is quite old," said Bob Hoffmann.

Chico is also lucky because in the wild these five pound capuchin monkeys from South America don't live past age twenty.

Story here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Delhi court ban on errant monkeys

The High Court in the Indian capital, Delhi, has directed the city's civic authorities to rid the premises of a top court of marauding monkeys.
The court told the authority to catch monkeys who were disrupting work at the Tis Hazari courts within a month.

A petitioner complained that the monkeys were attacking lawyers and their clients and snatching their food.

Delhi suffers from a serious monkey menace, with scores of animals seen across the city.

The monkeys are mostly seen around top government offices.

Petitioner Nirmal Chopra said lawyers at Tis Hazari had asked the state government and the municipality to tackle the simians, but no action had been taken.

Tis Hazari is Asia's largest law complex with 162 courts.

"If you cannot catch monkeys, then better close down your institution," Judges Vijender Jain and Rekha Sharma told the municipality.

The Press Trust of India quoted the municipality's lawyer as saying that catching monkeys was no longer its responsibility.

He told the court that a monkey catcher hired by the municipality had required 72 stitches after being mauled during an operation. Other monkey catchers were reluctant to take up the work.

Story here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Monkey Kills Three Month Old Baby In Orissa, India

In a shocking incident, a three month-old baby was done to death by a marauding monkey.

The incident took place at Dhumat village yesterday. The baby was sleeping on the veranda when the monkey picked him up while he was left alone by the family members.

Before the family members realised what was happening, the monkey took the baby into his fold and went to the roof of the house.

On hearing the baby cry, the family members and panicked villagers rushed to the scene and pleaded the monkey to return the baby.

But the animal was unmoved. Someone from the crowd then threw some banana hoping that the monkey would leave the baby. As the monkey tried to pick up the banana, the baby slipped from its lap and fell down sustaining serious injures.

The baby was immediately rushed to the District Headquarter Hospital for treatment but the doctors could not save his life.

Story here.

Several Cases of Monkey Fever Detected in Sullia, India

It has been reported that nearly 30 people are suspected to be suffering from ‘monkey fever’ in Panja village in Sullia.

On hearing that a monkey was found dead, a team from Primary Health Centre in Panja visited the place at Yennemajalu, to find that another monkey was also dead.

The locals reported that about five monkeys were found dead in the recent days.

Doctors, on visiting the village, found about 16 people suffering from the disease, out of which the condition of six was said to be critical.

The public have been advised to get themselves checked up if they are infected, and also not to go into the forests.

Story here.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Gorilla becomes Czech reality-show winner

Richard, a 14-year old grey-and-black gorilla, was declared the winner of the Prague zoo's alternative reality show on Sunday and can look forward to a first prize of 12 melons (melon meaning million in Czech slang), the zoo said.

Richard, the dominant male in the group of four gorillas, received the most SMS votes from viewers who have been able to follow the gorillas' every day activities on a web-cam internet site launched by the zoo on November 7 last year.

Regular reports were also carried on Czech radio and by the Czech public-service broadcaster, Czech Television.

The gorilla show, called Odhaleni (Exposed), was launched by the zoo when the Czech Republic appeared in the grip of reality-show fever with both of the country's two main commercial stations broadcasting daily updates on the activities of their human contestants.

It was the animal version that won the approval of Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek when he visited the zoo in December.

He described it as "more tasteful" than its human counterparts, which were both fined millions of koruna by the Czech broadcasting watchdog for their foul language and sexually explicit behaviour.

Richard has been ahead in viewer preferences for several weeks, a fact the zoo described as somewhat surprising given his "authoritative" and not "always positive behaviour".

A serious goal lay behind the zoo's cheeky send-up of reality shows. Money raised from the SMS votes will go to help save gorillas in the wild.

Story here.

Ohio State Student Attacked By Research Chimpanzee

An Ohio State student is recovering from an attack by a chimpanzee at an animal research facility owned by the school.

The woman suffered minor injuries when an 80-pound chimp named Sarah pulled her toward a cage and bit her around Saturday. OSU spokesman Earl Holland said the school isn't sure what prompted the attack.

School officials would not release the student's name or age. She was treated at Riverside Methodist Hospital.

The chimpanzee -- named Sarah -- is 47 years old and has been at the OSU Chimpanzee Center since 1987. She has learned an artificial language system and understands the numbers zero through six.

The center was founded in 1983 and has five adult chimps and four adolescents.

Story here.

Friday, January 13, 2006

"Bega Hobbit" skull endocast discovered in volcanic ash

THE endocast of a primitive hominid-like skull was recovered from among the rubble of a volcanic plug in the Bega district in May 2005.

The find could suggest that a race of ancestral hominids had evolved in Australia from tree-dwelling primate ancestors by seven million years ago. This is well before our primate ancestors supposedly left the trees for a terrestrial existence in Africa around six million years ago!

The fossil was discovered by noted prehistory researcher Rex Gilroy of Katoomba NSW, where he operates the 'Australian-Pacific Archaeological Research Centre'.

He discovered the fossil projecting from the base of a volcanic deposit while researching volcanic sites on the NSW far south coast.

The fossil, a chance discovery, further supports Rex Gilroy's belief that our Aboriginal people were preceded on this continent by earlier races, principally Homo erectus.

"The fossil was formed by fine volcanic ash filling the skull during an eruption. The ash gradually mineralised while the bones disintegrated, leaving the cast," he says.

"The remaining fossil has lost a portion of the underside and a shallow section of the skull dome is also gone, giving it a flattish appearance. The remaining endocast measures 15.7cm in length by 9cm in width across the facial section by 10cm in depth.

The height of the individual would have been hobbit size, ie around one metre," says Mr Gilroy.

As geologists have lately dated the volcanoes of the Bega region as having last erupted around 7 million years ago, this makes the 'Bega Man' the oldest known hominid skull found in the Australasian region.

On these grounds Rex Gilroy believes we should begin thinking 'Out of Australia', rather than Out of Africa for our human origins.

Story here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Army of Glue-Sniffing Monkeys Terrorizes Cambodia!

A marauding colony of glue-sniffing monkeys are being rounded up by police in Cambodia.

Wild macaques, dubbed "gangster monkeys", have been seen stealing bags of glue from addicts before going on the rampage.

As well as biting people, they have been stealing laundry from homes.

Deputy governor of Phnom Penh's Daun Penh district Pich Socheata said 15 macaques had been caught so far.

Story here.

Monday, January 09, 2006

A Moment of Prehistoric Zen

Story here.

Rwandan guilty of gorilla tourists' death

A court in Uganda has found a former Rwandan soldier guilty in the 1999 murders of eight "gorilla tourists" and their Ugandan guide in a national park.

The court in Kampala found that Jean Paul Bizimana, 31, was among the Rwandan rebels who abducted 14 tourists and their guide in a mountain gorilla sanctuary near Uganda's borders with Rwanda and Congo, the BBC reported Monday. Nine of the abductees were found clubbed and hacked to death.

The dead tourists were from the United States, Great Britain and New Zealand. The Rwandans allegedly marked the English-speakers for death because of U.S. and British support for the Rwandan government.

Bizimana is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday and could receive the death penalty.

Judge John Bosco Katutsi said in his ruling that the gang that carried out the attack shared a common purpose and therefore each individual member of the gang was guilty of murder.

Bizimana's lawyer said he would appeal, saying that being part of the gang did not mean his client carried out the killings.

Three other Rwandans have been sent to the United States to stand trial for the deaths of the two U.S. citizens.

Story here.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Czech viewers tune in to Gorilla Reality TV

Reality television has become a global phenomenon.

Television stations around the world are devising programmes where members are either forced to live together in a small house or endure extreme conditions or tasks.

Now Czech state television has come up with perhaps the most unusual contestants to date: gorillas.

The show takes place in the gorilla enclosure at Prague Zoo, where there are 16 cameras discreetly placed throughout the living and sleeping quarters, as well as in the garden.

Among the contestants are Richard, the only male of the group, weighing in at around 175 kg. He is joined by three females, one of them the mother of his child, one-year-old Moja who weighs a mere 8 kg and is just learning to walk.

Their every move is covered from a mobile studio, housed in a container outside the enclosure, where producers track and edit the action around the clock.

Highlights are shown twice every morning on the breakfast TV show, with further action available on cable. There is also live screening available online.

Viewers text in votes for their favourite animal - but the winner does not get to return to the jungle.

Instead, once the series is over, the gorilla with the most votes will receive 12 melons - a favourite fruit. It is also a play on words for the KCs11m (£256,055; 379,268 euros) prize for the rival human Big Brother show.

Story here.

Zoo says no more chimps after escape, killing of three others

Zoo Nebraska will no longer house chimpanzees after the escape and subsequent killing of three of the primates from the small-town zoo during the fall, the zoo director said.

Ken Schlueter Jr. said the board of directors at the zoo in Royal decided in recent weeks not to bring back the final surviving chimp, currently being housed in Missouri.

"Even though our facility has the same standards as everybody else, it's just very difficult to take care of them," Schlueter said of the chimpanzees.

Schlueter said Thursday from his home in the northeastern Nebraska village of 75, that the zoo wouldn't be able to afford another chimpanzee and it would be unfair to have Ripley, 17, living without another chimp.

He said safety was also a concern following the incident in mid-September when three chimps, a staple at the zoo, escaped from a cage when a padlock was not completely closed after cleaning. Schlueter killed the animals with a deputy's service revolver after a tranquilizer gun didn't show any effect. The fourth chimpanzee also escaped, but quickly returned to its cage. No one was hurt.

"We just don't want to put the community through that," Schlueter said.

Story here.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

If You Really Loved Monkey News...

You would nominate us for the 2006 Bloggies awards, preferably the "Best Topical" section but the humor section works just as well. Voting ends January 10th!

Monday, January 02, 2006

'Bigfoot' fever grips Malaysian rainforest

Bigfoot fever is gripping Malaysia, with local newspapers and the official news agency reporting sightings of a huge ape in southern rainforests.

In one reported sighting, an indigenous man claimed he saw a 10-feet-tall (300-cm-tall) ape standing on two legs beside a river in heavy rainforest in Johor state, the director of the state's national-parks service told Reuters on Sunday.

"He said it was hairy all over, like a gorilla," said Hashim Yusoff, director of Johor National Parks Corp.

Hashim took and a group of park rangers and journalists into the Sungai Madek forest reserve last week in four-wheel-drive vehicles to ask indigenous people in the area about the reported sightings.

He said he was keeping an open mind and wanted to enlist scientists to prove whether the beast was fact or fantasy. "We are collecting a database on the sightings," he added.

Hashim denied he was staging a publicity stunt to lure more visitors to the area. But with latest remake of the movie "King Kong" and bigfoot-spotting almost an industry in itself, there are bound to be suspicions.

"No way. If there's any suggestion that we are using this one to get publicity, it's not true," Hashim said.

The Malayasian press is enjoying the story, running headlines like "Rangers on the trail of Bigfoot" and "Villagers' close encounter with Bigfoot."

One newspaper published a picture of a large but vague impression in mud, calling it a footprint.

Story here.

Scientists decipher the Y chromosome of chimpanzees' genetic code

A group of researchers from Korea and Japan has deciphered the Y chromosome of chimpanzees' genetic code, getting a step closer to solving the mysteries surrounding human evolution.

It is well known that we share more than 98 percent of our DNA and almost all of our genes with the chimpanzee. Now the researchers have decoded more than half of the Y chromosomes, or 12.7 million base pairs, of man's closest living relative.

"Because no genetic exchange occurs, the Y chromosome is important in explaining the evolution process," said Park Hong-seog, a senior researcher at the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB). Dr. Park's team at KRIBB and Japan's Riken Genomic Sciences Center discovered that chimps have 19 active genes in their Y chromosomes while humans have 20, with the extra one, called CD24L4, linked to immune-related and infectious diseases. That confirms why humans and chimpanzees both contract diseases like tuberculosis, measles and even food poisoning but only humans are vulnerable to AIDS, Alzheimer's and asthma.

The research also confirms the view that humans and chimpanzees started evolving differently about 5 to 6 million years ago and humans evolved much faster due to different mating habits: chimps are polygamous. The teams published their findings in January's first online edition of Nature Genetics.

Story here.

Researchers document gorilla menopause

Jenny, Shamba, Timbo, Beta and Elaine are zoo gorillas, but they have something in common with millions of women: They have undergone menopause.

A study of gorillas at 17 North American zoos, led by Chicago's Brookfield Zoo, is the first to document gorilla menopause, according to researchers who were not involved in the study.

The findings may help zoos improve how they care for aging female gorillas and change the way evolutionary biologists think about menopause in humans.

"Do they have hot flashes? Do they get grouchy? We haven't been able to measure those things yet, but give us time," said study co-author Sue Margolis, a former Brookfield Zoo researcher and now curator of primates at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo.

Many biologists believe menopause evolved because it gave human grandmothers more time to help care for their grandchildren, said Steve Austad, a researcher at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio who was not involved in the study.

The new findings argue against the so-called "grandmother hypothesis," because female gorillas in the wild migrate away from their family groups and don't hang around to care for the grandkids.

Instead of an evolutionary adaptation, menopause could result merely from humans -- and captive gorillas -- living longer, Austad said.

"It's going to make evolutionary biologists think long and hard about what this suggests for humans," Austad said. "Right now, they're saying humans are unique. It may turn out you can get gorillas to live 75 years, and 25 years of that is post-menopausal."

Story here.