Tuesday, June 30, 2015

30 Monkeys break free in great escape from research facility in Puerto Rico

Authorities say more than two dozen monkeys have been set free in Puerto Rico after someone broke a lock on their enclosures at a primate research facility.

Police say the roughly 30 rhesus macaques were freed early Sunday from the Caribbean Primate Research Center in the northern town of Toa Baja.

The facility established in the late 1930s is a unit of the University of Puerto Rico. It supplies monkeys for use in studies of diseases that afflict people.

There have been no arrests. Authorities have launched an effort to recapture the monkeys.

Puerto Rico has long struggled with controlling wild monkeys that descended from escaped research monkeys.

Full story here.

Women going ape over 'handsome gorilla'

shabani handsome gorilla
A brooding expression, rippling muscles, a lingering gaze ... and, er, a habit of beating his chest.

Shabani may be a little hairier than your average pin-up - and at 177 kgs, he's certainly a little heavier - but none of that has deterred humans of the fairer sex from flocking to admire the 'hunky' and 'handsome' gorilla.

His zoo has been flooded with young female visitors desperate for a glimpse of the 'buff' primate. And 18-year-old silverback Shabani doesn't seem to mind, playing up to his adoring audience by posing for pictures, staring pensively into the distance and showing off his muscular physique.

Takayuki Ishikawa, spokesman for Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Nagoya, Japan, said: "Sometimes if you're taking photos it will look like he's posing for you like a model.

He often rests his chin on his hands and looks intently at you. He is more buff than most gorillas and he's at his peak physically.

"We've seen a rise in the number of female visitors - women say he's very good-looking."

Full story here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Amazing Images Show What Looks Like Monkeys Domesticating Wild Wolves

In the alpine grasslands of eastern Africa, Ethiopian wolves and gelada monkeys are giving peace a chance. The geladas – a type of baboon – tolerate wolves wandering right through the middle of their herds, while the wolves ignore potential meals of baby geladas in favour of rodents, which they can catch more easily when the monkeys are present.

The unusual pact echoes the way dogs began to be domesticated by humans (see box, below), and was spotted by primatologist Vivek Venkataraman, at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, during fieldwork at Guassa plateau in the highlands of north-central Ethiopia.

Even though the wolves occasionally prey on young sheep and goats, which are as big as young geladas, they do not normally attack the monkeys – and the geladas seem to know that, because they do not run away from the wolves.

"You can have a wolf and a gelada within a metre or two of each other and virtually ignoring each other for up to 2 hours at a time," says Venkataraman. In contrast, the geladas flee immediately to cliffs for safety when they spot feral dogs, which approach aggressively and often prey on them.

When walking through a herd – which comprises many bands of monkeys grazing together in groups of 600 to 700 individuals – the wolves seem to take care to behave in a non-threatening way. They move slowly and calmly as they forage for rodents and avoid the zigzag running they use elsewhere, Venkataraman observed.

Full story here.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Chimpanzees have mental skills to cook, study finds

Chimpanzees have the mental abilities to cook, researchers say, and would choose to cook their food if given the opportunity.

Though chimps can’t heat up raw foods on their own—they can’t quite produce fire—scientists found that when presented with two containers—one with cooked food and one regular—the chimps almost always chose to eat their sweet potatoes hot and roasted, even if it meant they had to wait. They didn’t put any of the provided wooden pieces into the “cooker,” but they were found to be interested in carrying it further (across a room) to cook it rather than quickly begin to eat.

The results, newly published in Proceedings of Royal Society B, suggest that the primates understand the concepts of planning, cause-and-effect and delayed gratification—three mental abilities that are necessary to cook. The study sheds light on the scientific mystery of when and how humans first learned to cook. Scientists suggested in the past it had to do with learning to produce fire, and argue that cooking was a pivotal moment in humans’ physiological development, as the heated food is easier to digest.

Full story here.