Thursday, July 31, 2014

India Hires Men In Ape Suits To Drive Away Parliament's Monkeys

The Indian government is hiring men to pose as menacing langur monkeys to scare off the hundreds of macaques terrorising MPs and staff around its parliament and central government buildings.

M Venkiah Naidu, the urban development minister, told MPs on Thursday that 40 young people had been hired to disguise themselves as langurs - India’s bigger, predatory monkeys - to frighten away the macaques.

If the ape-men failed to rid the capital’s administrative centre of the monkey menace then marksmen armed with rubber bullets could be deployed.

The announcement reflects growing frustration at the continuing presence of macaque monkeys in the city centre and the terror and damage they cause.

The roam freely over the vast open lawns of India Gate, and assail government buildings where they chew through internet and telephone cables, attack staff for food, and occasionally jump in through the windows and pace the corridors of power.


Full story here.
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Japanese Monkeys' Abnormal Blood Linked To Fukushima Radioactive Disaster

Wild monkeys in the Fukushima region of Japan have blood abnormalities linked to the radioactive fall-out from the 2011 nuclear power plant disaster, according to a new scientific study that may help increase the understanding of radiation on human health.

The Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) were found to have low white and red blood cell levels and low haemoglobin, which the researchers say could make them more prone to infectious diseases.

But critics of the study say the link between the abnormal blood tests and the radiation exposure of the monkeys remains unproven and that the radiation doses may have been too small to cause the effect.

The scientists compared 61 monkeys living 70km (44 miles) from the the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant with 31 monkeys from the Shimokita Penisula, over 400km (249 miles) from Fukushima. The Fukushima monkeys had low blood counts and radioactive caesium in their bodies, related to caesium levels in the soils where they lived. No caesium was detected in the Shimokita troop.

Professor Shin-ichi Hayama, at the Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University in Tokyo, told the Guardian that during Japan’s snowy winters the monkeys feed on tree buds and bark, where caesium has been shown to accumulate at high concentrations.

“This first data from non-human primates — the closest taxonomic relatives of humans — should make a notable contribution to future research on the health effects of radiation exposure in humans,” he said. The work, which ruled out disease or malnutrition as a cause of the low blood counts, is published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports.


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Sunday, July 06, 2014

Researchers Create Glossary Of Gestures Used By Wild Chimpanzees

For the first time, scientists from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland have decoded the meaning behind the various gestures that chimpanzees use to communicate with one another, observing more than 80 wild Ugandan primates in order to compile a glossary of their hand and body movements.

Writing in the July 2 edition of the journal Current Biology, St. Andrews primatologists Dr. Catherine Hobaiter and Professor Richard Byrne explained that they monitored wild chimpanzees in the rainforests of the African nation and discovered that the creatures use a total of 66 gestures to intentionally communicate 19 different and unique meanings.

According to Tom Brooks-Pollock of The Telegraph, among the gestures detected by Hobaiter and Byrne included tapping another chimp in order to ask them to stop doing something, flirting by nibbling on a leaf, making a flinging motion with the hand to ask another chimp to move away, and raising an arm in order to ask for an object.

The study authors said their findings confirm the long-held notion that the creatures most closely related to humans biologically truly do have a purpose when they communicate with each other. While experts had known that they used gestures to communicate, this is the first study to successfully figure out what they are saying.


Full story here.
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