Tag Archives | Chimpanzees

New York Court Rules Chimpanzees Have No Human Rights

Sorry chimps, you don’t get the same rights as us humans, despite the best efforts of the Nonhuman Rights Project. Reuters reports on what would have been a truly ground-breaking decision had it gone the other way:

In the first case of its kind, a New York appeals court rejected on Thursday an animal rights advocate’s bid to extend “legal personhood” to chimpanzees, saying the primates are incapable of bearing the responsibilities that come with having legal rights.

A five-judge panel of the Albany court said attorney Steven Wise had shown that Tommy, a 26-year-old chimp who lives alone in a shed in upstate New York, was an autonomous creature, but that it was not possible for him to understand the social contract that binds humans together.

Expression of the Emotions Figure 18.png

“Needless to say, unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions,” Presiding Justice Karen Peters wrote.

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Human Ancestors Caught Herpes From Chimp Ancestors

Someone did the nasty in the pasty. [Pic: Lillyundreyfa -cc]

Someone did the nasty in the pasty. [Pic: Lillyundreyfa -cc]

Chimps. Herpes. Cherpes. And you thought “catching it from a toilet seat” was bad…

A herpes virus that infects humans originated in chimpanzees before it jumped into our early human ancestors, according to a new study.

Researchers found that herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) infected hominids before their evolutionary split from chimpanzees 6 million years ago, whereas herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) was transferred from ancient chimpanzees to human ancestors such as Homo erectus about 1.6 million years ago, long before the rise of early modern humans about 200,000 years ago.

via The Evolution of Herpes Revealed.

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Should a Chimp Be Able to Sue Its Owner?

This could change everything! Walk me now or I sue…

This excerpt from the New York Times Magazine picks up after Steven Wise visits a chimpanzee named Tommy at Circle L Trailer Sales near Gloversville, N.Y.:

…Seven weeks later, on Dec. 2, Wise, a 63-year-old legal scholar in the field of animal law, strode with his fellow lawyers, Natalie Prosin, the executive director of the Nonhuman Rights Project (Nh.R.P.), and Elizabeth Stein, a New York-based animal-law expert, into the clerk’s office of the Fulton County Courthouse in Johnstown, N.Y., 10 miles from Circle L Trailer Sales, wielding multiple copies of a legal document the likes of which had never been seen in any of the world’s courts, no less conservative Fulton County’s.

Under the partial heading “The Nonhuman Rights Project Inc. on behalf of Tommy,” the legal memo and petition included among their 106 pages a detailed account of the “petitioner’s” solitary confinement “in a small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed”; and a series of nine affidavits gathered from leading primatologists around the world, each one detailing the cognitive capabilities of a being like Tommy, thereby underscoring the physical and psychological ravages he suffers in confinement.

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Geneticist Thinks Man Evolved From Pig and Chimp Hybrid

ManBearPigLet’s see… who gets to be pissed off first? Scientists? Religious fundamentalists? The pork lobby? Al Gore? I’m going to go pop some popcorn.

Via The Times of India:

Turning the theory of human ancestry on its head, Dr Eugene McCarthy — one of the world’s leading authorities on hybridization in animals from the University of Georgia has suggested that humans didn’t evolve from just apes but was a backcross hybrid of a chimpanzee and pigs.

His hypothesis is based on the fact that though humans have many features in common with chimps, there are a lot more that don’t correspond to any other primates. He then suggests that there is only one animal in the animal kingdom that has all of the traits which distinguish humans from our primate cousins.

“What is this other animal that has all these traits? The answer is Sus scrofa – the ordinary pig” he says.

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You’ve Got Chimp Feet. Maybe.

03Well, I’ll be a monkey’s podiatrist…

Via New Scientist:

YOU may be walking on chimp-like feet without knowing it. At least 1 in 13 of us have feet that are specially adapted for climbing trees.

Textbooks will tell you that the human foot is rigid, which allows more efficient walking. Other apes, in contrast, have flexible feet better suited to grasping branches as they move through the trees. But the textbooks are wrong, say Jeremy DeSilva and Simone Gill at Boston University.

The pair asked 400 adults to walk barefoot around the Boston Museum of Science while they filmed their feet. This revealed that 8 per cent of people have some mid-foot flexibility, rather like that seen in tree-dwelling apes (American Journal of Physical Anthropology, doi.org/mmh). In another, soon-to-be-published analysis, Robin Huw Crompton at the University of Liverpool, UK, found that a flexible mid-foot may be even more common than DeSilva and Gill suggest.

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The Tendency to Go Bananas When Reaching Middle Age…

A curious story has emerged which suggests new research shows chimps and orang-utans also have a ‘midlife crisis’. The Daily Telegraph picks up the story:

Human behaviour studies have revealed the well-established trend that our level of happiness declines after childhood until middle age, when we gradually begin to feel more content again.

Now researchers have found that the same “u-shaped” pattern is also seen among chimpanzees and orang-utans, who are most satisfied with life in their earliest and latest years but reach a “nadir” in middle age.

[…]

The researchers examined behavioural reports on more than 500 captive apes compiled by their keepers, researchers or other volunteers who were familiar with them throughout their lives.

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, they reported that the animals’ happiness was generally high in youth, declined in middle age and rose again into old age.

While the study does not rule out the influence of cultural forces on our mood, it suggests biological factors could partly explain the distinctive u-shaped pattern.

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Chimps Attacking Humans In Revenge For Habitat Destruction?

Does this portend a future war between apes and humanity? Local media in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are interpreting a spate of chimp violence perpetrated against people as motivated by revenge. Via New Scientist:

Habitat loss may be to blame for an apparent spate of violent attacks by chimpanzees on humans in the war-torn eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Mistrust of chimpanzees has been heightened by local media reports, which suggest that as many as 10 people have been killed and 17 injured by chimps, in acts that were reported as “revenge attacks” for people encroaching on their territory.

Klaus Zuberbuhler, a psychologist at the University of St Andrews in Fife, UK, and scientific director of the Budongo Conservation Field Station in Uganda, says restricting the chimps’ habitat can certainly affect their behaviour, though it is debatable whether the chimps’ aggression towards humans is a form of revenge.

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Chimpanzees Have Police Officers, Too

Chimpanzee a2Via ScienceDaily:

Chimpanzees are interested in social cohesion and have various strategies to guarantee the stability of their group. Anthropologists now reveal that chimpanzees mediate conflicts between other group members, not for their own direct benefit, but rather to preserve the peace within the group. Their impartial intervention in a conflict — so-called “policing” — can be regarded as an early evolutionary form of moral behavior.

Conflicts are inevitable wherever there is cohabitation. This is no different with our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. Sound conflict management is crucial for group cohesion. Individuals in chimpanzee communities also ensure that there is peace and order in their group. This form of conflict management is called “policing” — the impartial intervention of a third party in a conflict. Until now, this morally motivated behavior in chimpanzees was only ever documented anecdotally.

However, primatologists from the University of Zurich can now confirm that chimpanzees intervene impartially in a conflict to guarantee the stability of their group.

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