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Posts Tagged "chimpanzee"

Cross-Check

Quitting the hominid fight club: The evidence is flimsy for innate chimpanzee–let alone human–warfare

chimpanzees in a group

Extraordinary claims, Carl Sagan liked to say, require extraordinary evidence. Here is an extraordinary claim: "Chimpanzeelike violence preceded and paved the way for human war, making modern humans the dazed survivors of a continuous, five-million-year habit of lethal aggression." The anthropologist Richard Wrangham of Harvard University made this statement in his 1996 book Demonic Males: [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Typhoid Monkey: Can Social Networks Predict the Apes Most Likely to Transmit Disease?

orangutan

A few months ago I had a conversation with someone who had just canceled a long-planned trip to see mountain gorillas in Uganda. It wasn’t an easy decision, but she had just gotten over a bad case of the flu. She knew that many human diseases have made their way into gorilla populations and didn’t [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Chimpanzees May Finally Gain Full Protection under the Endangered Species Act

captive chimpanzee

A long-in-place loophole that exempted captive-bred chimpanzees from the full protections of the Endangered Species Act may finally be closed, Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), announced on June 11. For decades now, wild-born chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) have been classified as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Captive-born chimps, [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Habitat Loss, Misinformation Spur Chimpanzee Aggression

chimpanzee

As tens of thousands of refugees crowd into the area around Virunga National Park in the warn-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the animals that already lived there are getting squeezed out their native habitats. Some of them apparently aren’t too happy about it. Incidents of chimpanzee attacks on humans are reportedly on the [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Chimps Infected with Human Diseases Pose Possible Risk to Reintroduction Efforts

When a wild animal is rescued from poachers or wildlife smugglers, conservationists usually make an effort to rehabilitate it and return it to life in its native habitat. But what if the animal contracted a disease from humans during captivity that could then be transmitted back to the rest of its species? Should that animal [...]

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Extinction Countdown

“Save the Chimps” Sanctuary Builds a Home for Traumatized Apes

Chimpanzee trauma

His name is Clay. He’s a happy, creative 24-year-old male who prefers to live in solitude. Although most of the time he is peaceful, he has been known to become aggressive and violent in a manner that can terrify the people who love him. If Clay were human, he would probably have been diagnosed with [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Should Captive-Bred Chimpanzees Have Full Endangered Species Act Protection?

In a move that’s probably long overdue, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced last week that it will conduct a status review to determine if captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) should be reclassified from “threatened” to the more protected status “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Wild-born chimpanzees have been fully protected under [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Emergency Action Plan Aims to Help the World’s Most Endangered Chimpanzee

Earlier this month, scientists for the Pan African Sanctuaries Alliance presented new research that predicted the extinction of the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti), the world’s rarest chimpanzee subspecies, within as little as 20 years. Now, just a few weeks later, a conservation plan written by primate experts from 17 conservation groups and government agencies [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Genetic testing may become a new weapon in the fight against chimpanzee smugglers

chimpanzee

DNA testing could be used as a tool to help fight smuggling of endangered chimpanzees, according to a study published this week in the journal BMC Ecology. Although they are still the most common apes in Africa, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes and their related subspecies) have experienced population drops of around 75 percent in the past [...]

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Extinction Countdown

A chimpanzee apocalypse in Tanzania?

Tanzania’s chimpanzee population has plummeted by more than 90 percent, from 10,000 a few years ago to just 700 today, according to a report from the Tanzania National Parks Authority. The Parks Authority blamed disease and predation — by humans and other mammals — for the dramatic losses. The country’s chimpanzees are located in just [...]

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Guest Blog

“Project Nim” Reveals a Scientific Scandal

The most important sign language study done with an ape was surely the first one back in the 1960s, with Washoe, for it established that chimpanzees can use American Sign Language (ASL). The most decisive such study, however, was probably the one a decade later, with Nim Chimsky because it put a halt to such [...]

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Guest Blog

Learning from Tinka: Able-bodied chimps cop a back-scratching technique from a handicapped friend.

With one misstep and the snap of a trap, Tinka was broken. The 50-year-old chimpanzee’s hands were mangled and left severely deformed and almost useless. Most of the muscles of his left wrist were paralyzed, and he was left with a limited range of movement. His left hand just sat there in a hooked position, [...]

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Guest Blog

Frans de Waal on the human primate: Strength is weakness

Editor’s Note: This post is the third in a four-part series of essays for Scientific American by primatologist Frans de Waal on human nature, based on his ongoing research. (The first post, on our sense of fairness, can be read here, and a second post, on the impact of crowding, is here.) De Waal and [...]

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Not bad science

Scientists Get Primates to Play Cards

All three primates chose the safer option

A few months ago I moved to Reno, Nevada. Although I haven’t been to a casino yet myself, living in a so-called ‘casino town’ makes you acutely aware of the effects of gambling on people. But why do people gamble to begin with? Surely if we know that the odds are stacked against us, we [...]

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Not bad science

A Glimpse Into the Sexual Lives of Chimpanzees

No prizes for guessing what this chimpanzee might be trying to communicate

Brittany Fallon is a PhD candidate at the Université de Neuchâtel  who works on the Sonso chimpanzee community of the Budongo Forest Reserve in Uganda. Here she shares some of her insights into their sexual displays.   In today’s focal party, the main characters are Nambi, the Alpha female who engages in regular sexual relations [...]

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Observations

Scientific American Snags “Science in Society” Essay Award

We are thrilled to pass along the news that Scientific American has won this year’s prestigious Science in Society award, given by the National Association of Science Writers, for the essay Ban Chimp Testing that appeared online and in our October 2011 issue. The article made the argument that medical testing caused such psychological harm [...]

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Observations

Why Chimpanzees Kill

male chimp

Chimpanzees are mostly peaceable creatures, spending much of their time foraging for food and grooming each other. But occasionally they kill their own kind. Why they engage in these lethal bouts of aggression has been uncertain. One theory holds that killing is an evolved strategy for reducing competition for resources; another posits that human disturbance—including [...]

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Observations

Did big babies help bring human ancestors down from the trees?

smaller chimpanzee baby riding on mother

Relative to our ape brethren, humans give birth to really big babies. This especially substantial infant size—along with newborns’ large heads and general helplessness—helped to spur the development of more advanced social systems to help mother and child safe, researchers think. A new study examines the evolution of this trend to try to pinpoint when [...]

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Symbiartic

Painting With Chimps

Nate_Gold_mini

[It's with great pleasure the Symbiartic team is featuring this Guest Post by illustrator Nathaniel Gold. Gold is the artist behind the wonderful illustrations found on The Primate Diaries by Eric Michael Johnson, and has twice been featured as Image of the Week (once, twice) here on the Scientific American Blog Network. I was excited [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Studying Contagious Yawning Might Help Us Build Better Societies

SONY DSC

We often turn to dogs and to chimpanzees to understand our species. Chimpanzees are our closest relatives (with bonobos), while centuries of selective breeding have turned dogs into a species uniquely suited to comprehend our own social cues. If anybody can help us understand contagious yawning, it’s them. This week, primatologists Matthew Campbell and Frans [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Searching for the Social in Contagious Yawning

baby yawning

Evidence has been accumulating for several years that contagious yawning is driven by social cognition. But how? And is it related to empathy? A new study with chimpanzees sheds some light.

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The Thoughtful Animal

For Chimps, Tool Choice Is A Weighty Matter

chimp nuts currbio

A juvenile chimpanzee in the Ivory Coast’s Tai Forest watches as her mother carefully places a soft coula nut onto a hard, flat rock. In her other hand, mom has a chunk of hard wood. Mom smashes the nut with her makeshift hammer, once, twice, three times. Having broken the outer shell, she plucks out [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Chimpanzee Infanticide at the LA Zoo: Common Occurrence or Cause For Alarm?

Gracies with her infant, on May 14, 2012.

Sometimes, zoo animals behave unnaturally. Most animals on display at zoos are not really designed for captive living. If you’ve been to a zoo, no doubt you’ve noticed evidence of this: a tiger who paces back and forth, or a monkey that does nothing but circle the enclosure. Life in captivity can even result in [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Contagious Yawning: Evidence of Empathy?

baby yawning

When is a yawn just a yawn? When is a yawn more than a yawn? Contagious yawning – the increase in likelihood that you will yawn after watching or hearing someone else yawn – has been of particular interest to researchers in fields as varied as primatology, developmental psychology, and psychopathology. At first, scientists thought [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Chimpanzees Help, But Only When Asked

Chimpanzees have a bad reputation. Maybe it’s because humans have a thing about wanting to feel unique among primates. Some have argued that humans are the only species that truly behaves altruistically, the only species that actively helps out other individuals even when there is no direct benefit. Despite mounting evidence that other animals, including [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Chimpanzees Should Not Be Used in TV or Movies

Lots of people mistake bonobos for chimpanzees, despite the fact that they’re really two different species. But that people are familiar with chimpanzees in the first place is actually somewhat remarkable, given how rare these primates truly are. The IUCN’s most recent estimate (in 2003) for the global population of wild chimpanzees is only 172,700 [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Animal Imagination: The Dog That Pretended to Feed a Frog (and Other Tales)

Can dogs pretend? This is the question I asked yesterday, prompted by Sheril’s story: …this afternoon Happy did something unusual. She carried a toy frog over to her water bowl, and gently put it down as pictured. Given its orientation, I’m skeptical that her placement was an accident. The frog continues to sit like this [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

How Do You Figure Out How Chimps Learn? Peanuts.

What is culture? One simple definition might be: a distinctive behavior shared by two or more individuals, which persists over time, and that ignorant individuals acquire through socially-aided learning. There are at least four different ways to learn a particular behavior or problem-solving strategy. That is to say, there are four different ways to learn. [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Guest Post! Seeing the Monkey in the Mirror

Editor’s Note: While I’m on vacation, I’ve arranged a series of guest posts from other writers who routinely cover animal behavior and cognition. Today’s post, about the controversial mirror self-recognition test in primates, comes from the blogger at Serious Monkey Business. Follow her on twitter: @SrsMonkeyBiz. I have a confession: one of my favorite things [...]

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