Primatology

The Primate Diaries

Category archives for Primatology

An Academic Love Story

Four years ago today a young researcher at the beginning of his graduate program in primatology sat down with the most intelligent, engaging, and downright beautiful fellow primate he’d ever had the opportunity to share a beer with. Freshly minted with her Master’s degree in women’s studies (emphasizing public policy), our conversation quickly moved to…

An Open Letter to the Animal Liberation Front

(updated below) My piece for The Huffington Post has just gone up concerning the latest incidents involving neuroscientist Dario Ringach and the targeting of his children by animal rights extremists. For more on this see Dr. Free-Ride, PZ, PalMD, Scicurious, MarkCC, Nick Anthis, Drugmonkey and Orac. Dear ALF, I address you not because your organization…

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…

Robert Sapolsky on the Uniqueness of Humans

Sapolsky’s talk begins at 5:00 after an introduction by the Stanford Provost. The neuroendocrinologist and primatologist Robert Sapolsky has been one of my primary scientific influences and the reason I pursued my masters and PhD in primate behavior and evolution. Not only is he a brilliant researcher and writer, he’s also a genuinely kind and…

   The Open Laboratory?! You’re kidding? Woo hoo!!!!!!!!My post for Nature Network, Male Chauvinist Chimps or the Meat Market of Public Opinion? has been selected for this year’s Open Laboratory as an example of the year’s best online science writing. For those who have followed the developments of Ardipithecus ramidus, it will interest you to know…

Bonobos and the Emergence of Culture

In this TED Talk Susan Savage-Rumbaugh discusses bonobos housed in a bispecies environment that have been taught to communicate using pictographs. In the talk she suggests that biology isn’t what made humans unique from nonhuman apes, but rather argues that it was cultural developments and social learning. Quite obviously there are some biological differences (around…

Chimpanzees Mourn the Death of Their Own Kind

At the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center, chimpanzees form a gallery of grief, looking on as Dorothy–a beloved female felled in her late 40s by heart failure–is borne to her burial. Image: National Geographic / Monica Szczupider The Prancing Papio has brought attention to this powerful photograph presented by National Geographic showing chimpanzees focused on the…

Eye of the Beholder

As a species we are consumed by love. Ask yourself, how many cultural productions (films, stories, songs, dances, arts) do not have love, the loss of love or the absence of love as their central theme? Would you be satisfied with what was left over? That fact that love has so much power over us…

Female chimpanzee with her infant requests meat after a successful hunt. Image: David Bygott / Tree of Life Web Project Owen Lovejoy’s recent paper about Ardipithecus ramidus and human origins (see my detailed critique here) bases its argument on the male provisioning observed in chimpanzees. However, what went unacknowledged in his theory was the inherent…

Grand evolutionary dramas about human origins capture our imagination and the stories provide context as to how we view ourselves. They are the scientific version of creation myths. However, unlike Adam and Eve being fashioned in the garden or humanity being vomited up by the giant Mbombo (as the Bakuba people of Congo believed), scientific…