Monday, March 07, 2016

Two 'naked' chimpanzees suffering from alopecia start mass brawl in zoo enclosure caught on camera

This is the astonishing moment two chimpanzees with alopecia sparked a mass brawl between a group of apes at a zoo.

The video, filmed yesterday at Twycross Zoo at Atherstone, England, shows the two angry chimps, who are completely bald, chasing each other and fighting in their enclosure.

The pair, who are believed to be father and son, begin their scrap by chasing one another and baring their teeth while screeching before the entire group of chimps become involved.

Full story here.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Monkeys Drive Wheelchairs Using Only Their Thoughts

Neuroscientists at Duke Health have developed a brain-machine interface (BMI) that allows primates to use only their thoughts to navigate a robotic wheelchair. The BMI uses signals from hundreds of neurons recorded simultaneously in two regions of the monkeys’ brains that are involved in movement and sensation. As the animals think about moving toward their goal -- in this case, a bowl containing fresh grapes -- computers translate their brain activity into real-time operation of the wheelchair. The interface, described in the March 3 issue of the online journal Scientific Reports, demonstrates the future potential for people with disabilities who have lost most muscle control and mobility due to quadriplegia or ALS, said senior author Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D., co-director for the Duke Center for Neuroengineering. “In some severely disabled people, even blinking is not possible,” Nicolelis said. “For them, using a wheelchair or device controlled by noninvasive measures like an EEG (a device that monitors brain waves through electrodes on the scalp) may not be sufficient. We show clearly that if you have intracranial implants, you get better control of a wheelchair than with noninvasive devices.” Full story here. -----------------------------------------

Ritualized behavior? Chimps all throw rocks at the same tree

Camera trap footage, taken with no humans present to cause a disturbance, shows one chimp after another pick up a rock and hurl it at the same tree. Rocks pile up at the foot of the tree, which starts to show signs of wear and tear. For some reason, the chimps have picked this particular tree for an accumulation of hurled rocks.

“It was unlike anything I had ever observed among wild chimpanzees,” said primatologist Ammie Kalan. Her team has discovered the behavior in four distinct populations, and it’s possible that more will turn up as they continue searching. What the rock piles mean is an open question, but the discovery of such a distinct and puzzling stone tool use is unquestionably exciting.

Full story here.