Great Apes

The Primate Diaries

Category archives for Great Apes

Sexy Beasts at Seed Magazine

Author’s Note: The following is an excerpt from my review of Sex At Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality. For additional information see my posts Reexamining Ardipithecus ramidus in Light of Human Origins, Those Cheating Testicles, or Who’s Your Baby? as well as Helen’s Lament and the Origins of Forbidden Love. Christopher Ryan also…

Chimpanzees have culture (or not) depending on your definition.Image: Irish Wildcat / Creative Commons Author’s Note: The following is an expansion on my reply to anthropologist Dan Sperber on the PLoS ONE article “Prestige Affects Cultural Learning in Chimpanzees.” Culture is like art or pornography, it’s hard for people to define but everyone knows it…

     New research finds chimpanzees follow  prestigious models when learning new tasks.        Monika Thorpe / Creative Commons If one were to play psychiatrist to the natural world, most human beings would be committed for our certifiable obsession with other peoples’ behavior. We compulsively examine, study, appraise, size up, and scope out what those around us are doing…

A new study shows that chimps sacrifice their own advantage if they earned it unfairly.Image: Owen Booth / Creative Commons Fairness is the basis of the social contract. As citizens we expect that when we contribute our fair share we should receive our just reward. When social benefits are handed out unequally or when prior…

Cultural Transmission in Chimpanzees

Culture defines who we are but few can explain where it comes from or why we adopt one tradition over another. In the classic musical The Fiddler on the Roof the main character, Tevye, muses on this basic fact of human existence: Here in Anatevka we have traditions for everything… how to eat, how to…

An adolescent female orangutan practices her ape stroke.Image: Anne Russon / New Scientist Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) are not the most dexterous of creatures (especially for primates) and this is particularly true when they’re in water. Zoos across the country have removed the moats surrounding their exhibits precisely because of their tendency to sink. However, researchers…

    Image Source: Monkeys in the NewsMonkeys In the News has alerted me to an Associated Press story today about a Nevada research lab, part of Charles River Laboratories, that is one of the world’s largest suppliers of clinical and laboratory research services to pharmaceutical and biotech companies. The company was fined after thirty monkeys died…

Why I Am Not A Humanist*

           Looking nonhumans in the eye.      Image: Elephant Man by Chris Gallucci In 1927 Bertrand Russell wrote his now famous essay “Why I Am Not A Christian” and outlined the general reasons for why he rejected such an ideology. This approach has been followed by other writers such as Ibn Warraq in Why I Am Not A…

Animal Rights and Human Rights

It’s wonderful to see that my Open Letter to the Animal Liberation Front has generated discussion on this important topic. The issue as I see it is really quite simple and boils down to two essential issues: the benefits to science versus the ethics of invasive animal experimentation. The British Medical Journal study and BUAV…

Bonobos and the Child-Like Joy of Sharing

   Bonobos retain juvenile traits related   to tolerance and cooperation.            Image: Vanessa WoodsHow many times as a kid would your parents tell you to grow up and act your age? It turns out that not acting our age may be the very reason why we’re so successful as a species. Brian Hare and colleagues have just released a…