Primatology

The Primate Diaries

Category archives for Primatology

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…

Darwinius Is Not a Human Ancestor

      Artist rendering of Darwinius.        Image: Julius T. Csotonyi Last year’s publication of the fossil primate Darwinius masillae claimed it to be the oldest haplorhine primate ever discovered and a multimedia blitz campaign touted the find as the ultimate “missing link” (an erroneous term that should forthwith be forbidden to all science journalists). Brian Switek at Laelaps…

Animal Testing Statistics and Perspectives

In light of the recent discussion on animal testing and animal rights I thought a few additional points would be valuable. It is a fact that animal testing leads to some necessary medical advances that save lives. Anyone who would say differently doesn’t have the slightest clue what they’re talking about and should be dismissed…

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…