Posts Tagged ‘Monkeys’

The Symbolic Monkey? Animals Can Comprehend And Use Symbols, Study Of Tufted Capuchins Suggests

June 18, 2008

From paintings and photographs to coins and credit cards, we are constantly surrounded by symbolic artefacts. The mental representation of symbols — objects that arbitrarily represent other objects — ultimately affords the development of language, and certainly played a decisive role in the evolution of our hominid ancestors. Can other animal species also comprehend and use symbols? Some evidence suggests that apes, our closest relatives, can indeed use symbols in various contexts. However, little is known about the symbolic competence of phylogenetically more distant species.

A new study presents evidence of symbolic reasoning in tufted capuchin monkeys, a South-American species that diverged from humans about 35 million years ago. In the experiment, five capuchins engaged in “economic choice” behavior. Each monkey chose between three different foods (conventionally referred to A, B and C), offered in variable amounts. Choices were made in two different contexts. In the “real” context, monkeys chose between the actual foods. In the “symbolic” context, monkeys chose between “tokens” (intrinsically valueless objects such as poker chips) that represented the actual foods. After choosing one of the two token options, monkeys could exchange their token with the corresponding food.

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Monkey Uses Garden Hose to Scale Moat, Bolt from Zoo

June 17, 2008

A spider monkey used a garden hose to scale the wall of a moat at a Michigan City zoo before being captured at a nearby boat dealership.

One of two spider monkeys recently added to the Washington Park Zoo broke out of its enclosure this week while workers were cleaning the moat, which had been emptied of water.

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Ever clever macacques learn to fish

June 13, 2008

From the Associated Press comes a fascinating story about a new behavior observed in long-tailed macaque monkeys. They fish.

Reporting out of Bangkok, Thailand, the AP says that macaques had been known to collect crabs and insects, but that fishing was new. True, the silver-haired primates weren’t exactly using rods and reels, but four times over the past eight years macaques have been seen scooping up fish with their agile hands along rivers in Indonesia.

News of this behavior comes from researchers with The Nature Conservancy and the Great Ape Trust. The AP notes:

“It’s exciting that after such a long time you see new behavior,” said Erik Meijaard, one of the authors of a study on fishing macaques that appeared in last month’s International Journal of Primatology. “It’s an indication of how little we know about the species.”

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Mind Over Matter: Monkey Feeds Itself Using Its Brain

May 28, 2008

A monkey has successfully fed itself with fluid, well-controlled movements of a human-like robotic arm by using only signals from its brain, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine report in the journal Nature. This significant advance could benefit development of prosthetics for people with spinal cord injuries and those with “locked-in” conditions such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

“Our immediate goal is to make a prosthetic device for people with total paralysis,” said Andrew Schwartz, Ph.D., senior author and professor of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “Ultimately, our goal is to better understand brain complexity.”

Previously, work has focused on using brain-machine interfaces to control cursor movements displayed on a computer screen. Monkeys in the Schwartz lab have been trained to command cursor movements with the power of their thoughts.

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First Transgenic Monkey Model Of Huntington’s Disease Developed

May 22, 2008

Scientists have developed the first genetically altered monkey model that replicates some symptoms observed in patients with Huntington’s disease, according to a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Researchers are now able to better understand this complex, devastating and incurable genetic disorder affecting the brain. This advance, reported in the May 18 advance of online publication edition of Nature, could lead to major breakthroughs in the effort to develop new treatments for a range of neurological diseases.

Huntington’s is an inherited disease caused by a defective gene that triggers certain nerve cells in the brain to die. Symptoms may include uncontrolled movements, mood swings, cognitive decline, balance problems, and eventually losing the ability to walk, talk or swallow. It affects five to 10 people in every 100,000. There is no known treatment to halt progression of the disease, only medications to relieve symptoms. Death typically occurs 15 to 20 years after onset.

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When pets occupy a spiritual space

May 22, 2008

Anyone who has ever cared for a pet dog, neighbourhood cow, kitchen cat or horse at the riding club will verify French writer Anatole France’s statement that “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened”.

The emotional bond between humans and animals is easily accepted. With its uncomplicated nature and unconditional love, an animal can expand the boundaries of the human heart. But are animals also deeply connected to the human soul? Like many philosophical systems, Hinduism gives animals prime of place.

One of its chief gods is elephant-headed and another is a monkey. Shiva and Vishnu have several animal incarnations. Anthropologically, animals were useful to humans; they were likely given the status of gods to impress their importance upon the general people. Moreover, since all creatures are considered manifestations of the same paramatma, animals necessarily gain a position of equality with human beings.

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PHOTOS: The Animal Kingdom’s Odd Couples

May 22, 2008

A little macaque nestles its head on a pigeon that responds peacefully on Neilingding Island, China. Three months ago, the macaque was born on the island, but strayed from its mother. Luckily, it was taken in by work staff in the protective station and made the acquaintance of the pigeon. More than 2,000 macaques live on the island.

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VIDEO: Monkey works in a Japanese bar

May 14, 2008

The chunky monkeys who have been put on a diet after being overfed by tourists

May 6, 2008

Happy tourists visiting the wildlife park in Japan might have thought they were treating the monkeys.

But they have left many of them so overweight they can hardly get around.

About 50 Macaca mulatta monkeys at Ohama park in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture have been so overfed by tourists they are now massively overweight.

A local report in April said that about 30 per cent of the animals are so huge they struggle to get around their 420-square-meter enclosure.

Officials have been forced to put them on a strict diet.

Don’t Dare Call Them Pets; These ‘Monkids’ Are Raised As Children

May 5, 2008

Lori Johnson was lonely and depressed after her youngest son left home in 1992. She yearned for another child to love. So Johnson bought a baby monkey.

“She was a little, bitty, teeny thing staring up at me,” says Johnson, 58, who lives in Deltona, Fla., with her husband and Jessica Marie, a 5-pound capuchin she calls her daughter. “She was enough to steal anyone’s heart, she was.”

Like Johnson, there is a growing group of monkey lovers who pay big bucks to diaper and dote on their primates. Some even raise them as surrogate children.

Many self-described “monkey people” don’t dare call them pets. They are playfully referred to as “monkids” and reared in a world of pierced ears, monogrammed clothes, a seat at the dinner table and their own bedrooms.

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NYPD: Monkeys and snakes are service animals, too

May 4, 2008

That monkey on the subway? Illegal in New York City, but not if the owner has a disability. The guy with the snake on the bus? Leave him alone. He needs it for emotional support.

The New York Police Department Patrol Guide, a thick and getting thicker collection of rules and regulations, has been amended to let officers know that guide dogs for the blind are not the only creatures considered service animals — and to give them a better understanding of which straphangers and bus riders are allowed to have members of the animal kingdom as riding partners.

Now, according to the Patrol Guide, it is not just the blind who can have service animals, but those afflicted with epilepsy, heart disease, lung disease and other medical conditions, namely those who say they need an animal to provide them psychological reassurance.

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Saint John police on the case of the missing monkey

April 25, 2008

Saint John police are continuing to search for a little monkey that was stolen from a local zoo on Tuesday night.

Staff at the Cherry Brook Zoo found a padlock hacksawed and a door kicked in when they arrived at work on Wednesday morning.

A family of Callimico goeldii monkeys were found running free in a hallway, screeching, but one of the small South American marmosets was missing, said Lynda Collrin, spokeswoman with the zoo.

It’s an unusual investigation, said Sgt. Pat Bonner.

“We don’t know who’s really responsible and we’d like to know who they are and what they are and what they want the monkey for,” said Bonner. “What the motive would be in taking a monkey is beyond me.”

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15 monkeys stage daring escape from monkey island in Florida

April 25, 2008

Wildlife officials say 15 monkeys are on the loose after escaping a facility in Lakeland, Fla.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Gary Morse says the monkeys apparently escaped their island home by swimming across a pond — something they’re not supposed to be able to do.

Morse says several teams are out looking for the social but docile Patas monkeys, and that they are no threat to humans.

The 11 adults and four juveniles are the personal pets of Lex Salisbury, the chief executive officer of Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa.

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World Week For Animals In Laboratories

April 22, 2008

From March of next year the testing on animals of ingredients used in lipsticks, deodorants and other cosmetics will largely have become illegal through laws passed under the 1976 European Union, (EU) Cosmetics Directive 76/768/EEC [.pdf]. Since 1986 animal rights groups have observed a week-long annual protest against the use of animals in laboratories. This week is World Week for Animals in Laboratories, (WWAIL).

A global event, WWAIL seeks to educate the public about the scientific, moral, and economic objections to vivisection. It challenges the entrenched view of research industries that animal experimentation is necessary.

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Animals in Space: From Research Rockets to the Space Shuttle

April 18, 2008

The animals that paved the way for Neil Armstrong and his cohorts have inspired a fresh take on the ubiquitous lost dog notice. Suzy Freeman-Greene revisits some walkies on the wild side.

One winter’s day, in December 1958, a fluffy squirrel monkey called Gordo was given a helmet and strapped onto a tiny rubber couch. Soon after, he was blasted into space in the nose of an American Jupiter missile. Gordo experienced nine minutes of weightlessness and is thought to have survived his capsule’s re-entry to earth. But the craft landed in the Atlantic Ocean and his body was never found.

Gordo was one of hundreds of animals sent into space from 1949 to 1990. In the name of science, monkeys, dogs, cats, rabbits, mice, rats, frogs, worms, fish, tortoises and even spiders have journeyed towards the stars. While plenty survived, many others died.

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Russia tests monkeys for Mars trip

April 16, 2008

They won’t utter Yuri Gagarin’s famous phrase “Let’s go!” But the monkeys of Sochi have already proven their worth as trailblazers in space – and now they are being groomed for a trip to Mars.

The macaques will be the first to experience the radiation that poses a big risk to astronauts – or Russian cosmonauts – on any flight to the Red Planet.

The Sochi Institute of Medical Primatology, at Vesyoloye near the Black Sea, has a proud history of involvement in the Russian – formerly Soviet – space programme.

“People and monkeys have approximately identical sensitivity to small and large radiation doses,” explains the institute’s director, Boris Lapin. “So it is better to experiment on the macaques, but not on dogs or other animals.”

The institute will select macaques that may eventually fly to Mars before humans do. After two years of experiments the most suitable 40 monkeys will be sent to the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow, where scientists study aerospace biomedicine.

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A typographic tribute to animals lost in space research

April 15, 2008

Orbit Oblique is a typographic tribute to ‘animals lost in space’. “During the period 1949-1990 the space race between the USA and Russia saw dozens of animals being launched into space in the name of scientific research. These unwilling participants included not just monkeys and dogs but also cats, rats, frogs, worms, spiders, fish and even fruit flies. Many were never seen again.”

The exhibition features a series of backlit typographic billboards, the first public release of the typeface Bisque (whose exclusive usage rights were auctioned on ebay) and the publication that accompanies the exhibition sounds terrific: a limited edition hard-bound type sampler with letterpress printed covers.

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One of Orbit Oblique's billboards

Monkeys like beer.

April 8, 2008

Artistic animals provide zoos an untapped source of revenue

April 8, 2008

You might not be able to afford a Picasso, a Van Gogh or a Monet — but for $30 you can own your very own painting by Brittany the elephant.

She’s a resident at the Milwaukee County Zoo, where trainers encourage her to paint as a way to keep her mentally stimulated. She holds a paintbrush in her truck and slaps it at the canvas.

Zoo trainers across the country have been teaching animals to paint for years. Artists include monkeys, kangaroos, pandas and even a rhinoceros.

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Monkey and boy connect

April 4, 2008

I really like this photo. Wanna suggest a caption? Comment with your suggestions!