Stories tagged primates

This afternoon keepers released video footage of the baby white cheeked gibbon born at the Minnesota Zoo on December 27. The baby -- the 10th one born at the Minnesota Zoo -- is being cared for by people because her mother, "Tia," shows little interest in mothering her. Still, the baby is growing well and keepers are hopeful that Tia will come around eventually.

The baby gibbon won't be on exhibit for a few months, so watch the video.

Nov
16
2005

Psychologists at Emory University in Atlanta have been studying how capuchin monkeys see themselves by showing them their own reflections.

The scientists assumed that the monkeys would behave as they would when meeting a stranger. Instead, females react with curiosity and friendly gestures, while males act distressed and fearful. Psychologist Frans B.M. de Waal thinks the monkeys realize that the reflections are special, even if they're not quite sure who they're looking at.

Know thyself

When you look in the mirror, you know the person you're seeing is you. You're "self aware." (Scientists consider an animal self-aware if it touches a painted spot on its own face when it looks in a mirror.) People, apes, and dolphins recognize themselves. Most monkeys, though, don't get it.

In a series of experiments, the Emory scientists put capuchin monkeys into test chambers where they had one of three experiences: they saw a monkey of the same sex that they'd never met before, they saw a familiar monkey of the same sex, or they saw their own reflections. Reactions to the other monkeys were predictable, but the reactions to the mirrors were new. And the Emory scientists think they prove that the capuchins have reached some intermediate level of self-awareness, somewhere between seeing their reflections as other monkeys and recognizing themselves.

Oct
13
2005


Gorilla: A gorilla chewing some food.

Biologists working in the rainforest of Africa have documented gorillas using simple tools, such as using a branch to dig for food.

For a long time, scientists thought only humans used tools. In 1960, Jane Goodall observed chimpanzees using tools in the wild—the first non-human species known to use tools. In 1993, Caral van Schaik of Duke University found tool use among orangutans on Borneo. Now, we can add gorillas to the list of tool-using primates.

Humans and gorillas last shared a common ancestor some 5 to 8 million years ago. Apparently, tool-use evolved sometime before then, and has been inherited by both species. Researchers say this discovery will help us understand the evolution of the human species, and the human brain.