This gallery contains 7 photos.
According to a new study, published in the latest issue of Biology Letters, music skills evolved at least 30 million years ago in the common ancestor of humans and monkeys, which could help explain why chimpanzees drum on tree roots and monkey calls sound like singing. The study also suggests an answer to this chicken-and-egg question: Which came first, language or music? The answer appears to be music.
“Musical behaviors would constitute a first step towards phonological patterning, and therefore language,” lead author Andrea Ravignani said.
For the study, Ravignani, a doctoral candidate at the University of Vienna’s Department of Cognitive Biology, and his colleagues focused on an ability known as “dependency detection.” This has to do with recognizing relationships between syllables, words and musical notes. For example, once we hear a certain pattern like Do-Re-Mi, we listen for it again. Hearing something like Do-Re-Fa sounds wrong because it violates the expected pattern.
In the study, squirrel monkeys sat in a sound booth and listened to a set of three novel patterns. (The researchers fed the monkeys insects between playbacks, so the monkeys quickly got to like this activity.) Whenever a pattern changed, similar to our hearing Do-Re-Fa, the monkeys stared longer, as if to say, “Huh?”
“This kind of experiment is usually done by presenting monkeys with human speech,” co-author Ruth Sonnweber said. “Designing species-specific music-like stimuli may have helped the squirrel monkeys’ perception.”
The squirrel monkeys demonstrated that they understood sound patterns — and when they changed. This ability, central to language and music, therefore evolved at least 30 million years ago in the small and furry tree-dwelling primate that was the last common ancestor of humans and monkeys. It’s likely that all primates today share these skills and are as aware of music as we humans are.
Happy Monkday :_)
According to the latest report from the World Wildlife Fund, 441 species of animals and plants have been discovered in the past four years in the Amazon Rainforest; found through hundreds of scientific expeditions between 2010 to 2013. These new-to-science species includes 258 plants, 84 fish, 58 amphibians, 22 reptiles, 18 birds and one mammal. That one mammal is a purring monkey.
This purring monkey is called the Caqueta titi monkey (Callicebus caquetensis) of the Colombian Amazon, whose babies have an endearing trait: “All of the babies purr like cats,” said scientist Thomas Defler, who helped discover the species. “When they feel very content they purr towards each other, and the ones we raised would purr to us.”
Happy Monkday :_)
A chimpanzee at an ape rescue center has had twins despite being on birth control pills. The baby girls have been named Thelma and Louise after the film fugitives because staff at Monkey World in Dorset said they were “birth control outlaws”.
Female chimps at the center are given contraception to avoid overpopulation, but a course of antibiotics caused mother Cherri’s pill to fail. Centre director Alison Cronin said, “so far, Cherri is doing a great job.”
Twins are uncommon, but Cherri, who is in her early 20s and is classed as a mature mother, gave birth to the twins on September 25th.
The center delayed the announcement of the births until it was certain the twins were in good health. Dr. Cronin said Cherri is being supported by the adopted family of eighteen other chimpanzees and in particular a male chimpanzee named Simon “who has not left her side since she gave birth”.
She added the twins’ birth took staff at the centre by surprise “as they are not very common”.
Happy Monk(Ape)day :_)
In the first ever recorded evidence of whisper-like behavior in non-human primates, the tamarins of New York City’s Central Park Zoo have been observed making very quiet, almost inaudible vocalizations in the presence of zoo supervisor whom they found threatening.
These cotton-top tamarins had a history of going berserk in the presence of this supervisor, whom they associated with their both capture and uncomfortable medical procedures. In the past, they had harassed him with loud vocalizations, but when researchers from the City University of New York recorded the tamarins’ behavior before, during and after visits from the supervisor, they found that the monkeys didn’t mob him as they had previously done, instead, they emitted low amplitude chirps and whistles, the monkey equivalent of whispers. The calls were so quiet that the researchers didn’t even catch them at first.
“Although it is unclear what the motivational state of the tamarins was when in presence of the supervisor, it appears that they were responding to him as an ambiguous threat and may have been investigating the situation by cautiously approaching him to determine the actual level of threat and communicating to each other the appropriate behavioral response to take,” they write.
This is the first observation of monkeys whispering, but other animals do this aw sell. Richardson’s ground squirrels use ultrasonic whispers to warn nearby relatives of danger, some birds, bats, and even a species of fish have also been found to lower their voices in threatening situations, while hunting, and during courtship. It’s very possible that more animals than we realize have the ability to whisper, but since the whole point of a whisper is to be subtle, scientists just haven’t noticed yet.
The full study is available in Zoo Biology.
Happy Monkday :_)
Textile designer Helen Durrant has worked with fibers for more than forty years. When she heard about the camels’ struggles throughout Central Australia, she became emboldened to act. So began her journey working predominately with camel wool.
“I found it offensive,” she said, “I decided that it was no use protesting unless I did something about it. I wanted to do something positive and that was to start utilizing products from the camels to show that they do have value and we don’t just necessarily need to let them rot.”
Helen lives at Ross River Resort, east of Alice Springs, in the very center of Australia. With her five pet camels, she is only person in Australia working with camel wool.
She knits, weaves and felts with the camel wool, to make her own ranges of beanies, scarfs, shawls, booties, ponchos and other garments. While globally camel wool is relatively easy to access, Helen says it can be difficult to source in Australia.
“It’s always evolving, I’m always looking for new things to make. People with camels tend to stockpile it not knowing what to do with it and don’t particularly want you to have it,” she said, “generally the wool will be from camels in in captivity that are tame. Once they start shedding, when it’s hot in the Summer, they get ragged around their flanks and the wool comes off them.
Helen spins the wool herself at Ross River, using a spinning wheel over forty-years-old from New Zealand.
“The rhythm of the wheel is quite mesmerising, and you can sit and meditate and spin for hours.”
It’s estimated to be more than 750,000 feral camels in Australia’s outback. While it’s growing, Helen says a local camel industry is still in its infancy.
“We’ve barely even sniffed at it yet,” she said, ” [but] I think there’s huge potential here. I don’t think it’s ever going to be something that somebody comes in from overseas and pours millions of dollars into, it will be people like me and it will start off as a bit of a cottage industry. And it will grow from there – and it is growing.”
Happy Humpday (^_^)
In Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, known as the polar bear capital of the world, a man who used his cellphone light to scare off a 400-pound polar bear says he’s lucky to be alive with only a few superficial puncture wounds and scratches.
Garett Kolsun was walking home early Saturday morning in the Hudson Bay community of Churchill after celebrating the end of the work week with friends. He said he caught something out of the corner of his eye while he walked down the Manitoba town’s main drag.
“I turned and looked, and it was a polar bear charging towards me,” Kolsun, 40, said in an interview Monday. “I started running from it, looking for some place to go and get away from this bear.”
Businesses in the town of about 1,000 were all closed, so Kolsun had nowhere to hide.
“I stopped and I turned around to face the bear,” he said. “It was already there, right on top of me. I started shouting, yelling, screaming, waving my arms, running backwards to keep my eye on the bear.”
Kolsun said he ended up trapped on the porch of a bakery with the bear he believes was still young because of its size. It pinned him against the door and swiped at him with his paw. The bruin, which stood about five feet tall, also sank his teeth into Kolsun’s hip, although Kolsun says that, at the time, he didn’t even realize the bear had punctured his skin.
“The bear’s nose was inches away from me. I didn’t know where else to go. I was just (thinking), ‘what can I do to get away from this bear?’ That’s all I kept thinking about. I didn’t want to be a stat.”
Kolsun fished into his pocket and pulled out his cellphone. He turned the power on and turned the screen toward the bear.
“I was hoping anything I would do would give me an opportunity to get away from it,” he explained. “I was trying anything at that point. I was screaming, yelling, waving my arms, trying everything and it just kept chasing me and chasing me. I was just hoping for the best and, luckily, it worked.”
The lit screen startled the bear briefly and it took a step back, Kolsun said. It hit a flower pot on the porch and looked away for an instant.
“When it turned its head, I just turned and ran as fast as I could.”
Kolsun said he ran several blocks, looking for a home with its lights on. He saw some people sitting on a deck and ran to them. When he turned around, the polar bear was gone.
“The bear had stopped chasing me some place along the way there.”
Kolsun took a cab to a health center where staff cleaned his wounds, bandaged them and gave him a tetanus shot. He was released several hours later. Monday morning, he was back on the job as a Canadian Border Services guard.
“I was definitely very lucky,” Kolsun said. “He could have hurt me worse.”
The bear was captured later on Saturday and taken to the provincial polar bear jail, a transformed military warehouse with 28 holding cells for stray bears, in Churchill. Conservation Manitoba says the animal is being assessed.
Polar bears killing humans is still very rare. The last fatal attack in Churchill was in 1983, when a resident who scavenged packages of ground beef from a burned-out hotel ran into a bear.
Kolsun said he has a new-found respect for the bears, which can reach 1000 pounds and run as fast as 25 miles an hour.
“Don’t walk alone after dark, make sure you catch a ride or drive or go in a cab,” he said. “Unfortunately, I learned the hard way.”