Tag Archives | Chimpanzees

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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‘Charlie the Smoking Chimp’ Dies from Old Age, At 52

Charlie The Smoking ChimpVia Reuters:

JOHANNESBURG — A chimpanzee once hooked on smoking by visitors offering it cigarettes has died at a South African zoo at the relatively advanced age of 52, officials said on Wednesday.
“He appears to have died of old age,” said municipal spokesman Qondile Khedama. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of death.

“Charlie the smoking chimp” used to put two fingers to his mouth to mimic smoking and reach out with his other hand to bum cigarette butts from visitors at Bloemfontein Zoo. But when videos of him puffing away circulated globally a few years ago, zoo officials moved to cut off the supply of smokes.

The nickname stuck even though the cigarette habit faded.

The life expectancy for chimps in the wild is about 15 years and only 7 percent of wild chimps live past 40, a Harvard University report published in 2007 said.

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Is This How the ‘Planet of the Apes’ Begins? Wild Chimps Outwit Human Hunters

POTAGreat, now all we need is some virus to kill all the cats and dogs on the planet, so we start taking primates as household pets and they become smarter. Thanks scientists for helping to create our eventual Ape Overlords. Slippery slope, real slippery slope. Matt Walker writes on BBC Earth News:

Across Africa, people often lay snare traps to catch bushmeat, killing or injuring chimps and other wildlife. But a few chimps living in the rainforests of Guinea have learnt to recognise these snare traps laid by human hunters, researchers have found.

More astonishing, the chimps actively seek out and intentionally deactivate the traps, setting them off without being harmed.

The discovery was serendipitously made by primatologists Mr Gaku Ohashi and Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa who were following chimps living in Bossou, Guinea to study the apes’ social behaviour.

Snare injuries to chimps are reported at many sites across east and west Africa where chimps are studied, with many animals dying in the traps.

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How Chimpanzees Mourn Their Dead (Video)

ChimpanzeeTim Barribeau writes on io9.com:

Chimpanzees are our closest primate relative, and have a number of behaviors we once thought were human only: they empathize, cooperate, and have a sense of self. But how do they deal with the most distressing event possible — death?

Two studies this being published in Current Biology this week show a remarkable amount about how chimpanzees mourn, and the effect that death has on them — sometimes in ways very similar to us, sometimes shockingly different.

In what is an incredibly rare occurrence, cameras recorded the death and mourning of two groups of chimps — one with an elderly female, and the other with the death of two infants. When an adult chimp dies unexpectedly or traumatically, the tribe’s reaction is often loud and violent. Both times here, the reaction from those close to the dead was very different.

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