Tag Archives | Gorillas

Gorillas Are Showing Signs Of Learning To Talk

Talking apes may be about to leap from the world of science fiction to the world of science fact, reports the Independent:

Researchers have identified speech patterns in a gorilla, previously thought to be impossible for apes.

A gorilla named Koko became famous for her ability to learn sign language in order to communicate with her keepers. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison say that she is now displaying signs of being capable of speech.

Traditionally, it has been believed that vocal performance by apes has been limited to spontaneous noise expressed, for instance, at shock of seeing a predator or to intimidate a fellow mammal in a fight.

It was believed that beyond this, apes lacked the cognitive capacity and breathing control to engage in organised and premeditated speech.

Postdoctoral researcher Marcus Perlman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Nathaniel Clark at the University of California analysed 71 hours of video footage of Koko’s behaviour.

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How A Human Virus Is Killing Endangered Gorillas

Mountain Gorilla

Photo: FlickreviewR (CC)

Alasdair Wilkins writes in io9:

There’s fewer than 800 Mountain Gorillas left in the entire world, and their survival depends in part on people willing to pay money to go see them. But all this human interaction is bringing gorillas into contact with dangerous diseases.

Although humans are most closely related to chimpanzees, gorillas rank a very respectable second, sharing about 98% of their DNA with us. The current zoological consensus is that there are two distinct species of gorillas, western and eastern, and these are further divided into two subspecies each.

While all the gorilla species are to some degree threatened, the population levels vary wildly. There are at least 100,000 Western Lowland Gorillas in the wild, and 4,000 in zoos, while fellow western subspecies, the rarely seen Cross River Gorilla, is thought to have a remaining population of just 280. As for the eastern subspecies, the Eastern Lowland Gorilla has a relatively healthy population of about 4,000.

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