Great Apes Know They Could Be Wrong, Research Suggests

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In a series of three experiments, seven gorillas, eight chimpanzees, four bonobos and seven orangutans, from the Wolfgang Köhler Research Center at the Leipzig Zoo in Germany, were presented with two hollow tubes, one baited with a food reward, the other not. The apes were then observed as they tried to find the reward.

Great apes — orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas — realize that they can be wrong when making choices, according to Dr. Josep Call from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Dr. Call’s study was just published online in Springer’s journal, Animal Cognition.

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Developmental Delay May Explain Behavior of Easygoing Bonobo Apes

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Bonobo relaxing on a branch.

New research suggests that evolutionary changes in cognitive development underlie the extensive social and behavioral differences that exist between two closely related species of great apes. The study, published online on January 28th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, enhances our understanding of our two closest living relatives, chimpanzees and the lesser-known bonobos, and may provide key insight into human evolution.

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Primates’ Social Intelligence Overestimated: Primates Groom Others If Afraid They’d Lose Fight

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Two wild long-tailed macaques in the Sacred Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali in Indonesia.

The grooming behaviour displayed by primates is due to less rational behaviour than often thought. According to a computer model developed by scientists at the University of Groningen, one basic rule explains all possible grooming patterns: individuals will groom others if they’re afraid they’ll lose from them in a fight.

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Right-Handed Chimpanzees Provide Clues to the Origin of Human Language

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An adult male extends his right arm toward an adult female in order to greet her.

Most of the linguistic functions in humans are controlled by the left cerebral hemisphere. A study of captive chimpanzees at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center (Atlanta, Georgia), reported in the January 2010 issue of Elsevier’s Cortex, suggests that this “hemispheric lateralization” for language may have its evolutionary roots in the gestural communication of our common ancestors. A large majority of the chimpanzees in the study showed a significant bias towards right-handed gestures when communicating, which may reflect a similar dominance of the left hemisphere for communication in chimpanzees as that seen for language functions in humans.

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Genetic Variation Linked to Individual Empathy, Stress Levels

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A genetic variation may contribute to how empathetic a human is, and how that person reacts to stress.

Researchers have discovered a genetic variation that may contribute to how empathetic a human is, and how that person reacts to stress. In the first study of its kind, a variation in the hormone/neurotransmitter oxytocin’s receptor was linked to a person’s ability to infer the mental state of others.

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Hormone That Affects Finger Length Key To Social Behavior

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White-faced Capuchin (Cebus capucinus) checking its nails

Research at the universities of Liverpool and Oxford into the finger length of primate species has revealed that cooperative behavior is linked to exposure to hormone levels in the womb.

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Chimpanzees Help Each Other On Request But Not Voluntarily

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Tool transfer upon recipient’s request.

The evolution of altruism has long puzzled researchers and has mainly been explained previously from ultimate perspectives—”I will help you now because I expect there to be some long-term benefit to me”. However, a new study by researchers at the Primate Research Institute (PRI) and the Wildlife Research Center (WRC) of Kyoto University shows that chimpanzees altruistically help conspecifics, even in the absence of direct personal gain or immediate reciprocation, although the chimpanzees were much more likely to help each other upon request than voluntarily.

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Orangutans Unique In Movement Through Tree Tops

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Orangutan in the rainforest Sumatra, Indonesia. Orangutans move in an irregular way which includes upright walking, four-limbed suspension from branches and tree-swaying, whereby they move branches backwards and forwards, with increasing magnitude.

Movement through a complex meshwork of small branches at the heights of tropical forests presents a unique challenge to animals wanting to forage for food safely. It can be particularly dangerous for large animals where a fall of up to 30m could be fatal. Scientists found that dangerous tree vibrations can be countered by the orangutan’s ability to move with an irregular rhythm. Continue reading… “Orangutans Unique In Movement Through Tree Tops”

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Hyenas Cooperate, Problem-solve Better Than Primates

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potted hyenas may not be smarter than chimpanzees, but a new study shows that they outperform the primates on cooperative problem-solving tests.

Spotted hyenas may not be smarter than chimpanzees, but a new study shows that they outperform the primates on cooperative problem-solving tests. Continue reading… “Hyenas Cooperate, Problem-solve Better Than Primates”

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African Origin Of Anthropoid Primates Called Into Question With New Fossil Discovery

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monkeys origin called into question with new fossil discovery.

Well-preserved craniodental fossil remains from two primate species have been discovered during excavations at an Algerian site. They reveal that the small primate Algeripithecus, which is 50 million years old and until now was considered as the most ancient African anthropoid, in fact belonged to another group, that of the crown strepsirhines.

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