Study probes why humans are more cooperative than other animals

Humans are generally highly cooperative and often impressively altruistic, quicker than any other animal species to help out strangers in need. A new study suggests that our lineage got that way by adopting so-called cooperative breeding: the caring for infants not just by the mother, but also by other members of the family and sometimes even unrelated adults. In addition to helping us get along with others, the advance led to the development of language and complex civilizations, the authors say…

Monkeys use Field Scientists as Human Shields Against Predators

by Jeremy Hance

If you’re monkey—say a samango monkey in South Africa—probably the last thing you want is to be torn apart and eaten by a leopard or a caracal. In fact, you probably spend a lot of time and energy working to avoid such a grisly fate. Well, now there’s a simpler way: just stick close to human researchers.

A new study in Behavioral Ecology finds that samango monkeys (Cercopithecus albogularis erythrarchus), also known as Stairs’s white-collared monkey, feel a lot safer from land predators when they know humans are close by.

Studying samango monkeys in the Soutpansberg Mountains of South Africa, researchers were curious about how these monkeys, which have long been habituated to scientists, may change behavior depending on the presence or absence of humans.

Headed by Katarzyna Nowak with Durham University, the scientists placed peanut feeding buckets for the monkeys at various heights in trees. Arboreal browsers, samango monkeys eat up-and-down trees, but like many such monkeys they show a preference for eating higher up in trees rather than near the ground. Scientists believe this is because it helps the species avoid ground-based predators…

(read more: Monga Bay)

photos by MongaBay and Katarzyna Nowak

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The Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)

… is the world’s largest nocturnal primate, of the infraorder lemuriformes (there are about 100 species of lemuriformes known) exclusively found in Madagascar. It is known for its large eyes and peculiar long middle finger, and for its use of percussive foraging. Tapping its narrow middle finger along tree trunks, it uses its excellent auditory capabilities to detect movement or hollow sections, and proceeds to utilize rodent-like incisors to gnaw through bark and access the insects inside; they effectively fill the niche of the woodpecker in Madagascar. They also forage like this for coconuts.

The aye-aye has been listed as ‘near threatened’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, due to deforestation in its habitat and, because it is seen as an omen of death to the Malagasy. The superstition of being marked fro death when an aye-aye points its middle finger at you instills a superstitious, angry fear in the Malagasy, and the animal is usually killed when spotted.

This remarkable animal is rarely studied and widely misunderstood, and is very enigmatic- it appears solitary, as it is nocturnal and sticks to higher ranges of the forest canopy, but there are cases of brave little aye-ayes inquisitively tapping and inspecting researchers.

The photos are from BBC’s Last Chance to See with Stephen Fry; the middle photos are of an aye-aye in a Madagascar zoo (using its iconic finger as a utensil, and licking fruit from Mark Carwardine’s finger!), and the first and last are rare shots of an aye-aye in its natural habitat.

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White-tailed Titi  (White-browed Titi, Red Titi Monkey, Titi Monkey, Socayo, Songo Songo, Cotoncillo rojo)
TheWhite-tailed Titi, Callicebus discolor (Primates - Pitheciidae), is one of the 29 recognized species of the South American titi monkeys. It is a small monkey, diurnal and arboreal. They live in groups ranging from 2 to 5 individuals, with an adult male and a female and her offspring. They are monogamous. The male helps in brood care and carries young on his back.
Callicebus discolor has one of the largest distribution ranges of all titi monkey species, occurring from central Peru to southern Colombia (Peru, Ecuador, Colombia).
References: [1] - [2] - [3]
Photo credit: ©Stephen Davies
Locality: Garzacoha, Sucumbios, Ecuador

libutron:

White-tailed Titi  (White-browed Titi, Red Titi Monkey, Titi Monkey, Socayo, Songo Songo, Cotoncillo rojo)

TheWhite-tailed TitiCallicebus discolor (Primates - Pitheciidae), is one of the 29 recognized species of the South American titi monkeys. It is a small monkey, diurnal and arboreal. They live in groups ranging from 2 to 5 individuals, with an adult male and a female and her offspring. They are monogamous. The male helps in brood care and carries young on his back.

Callicebus discolor has one of the largest distribution ranges of all titi monkey species, occurring from central Peru to southern Colombia (Peru, Ecuador, Colombia).

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Stephen Davies

Locality: Garzacoha, Sucumbios, Ecuador

Kirk’s red colobus (Procolobus kirkii) is one of the 13 species of red colobus monkey assessed in Africa, of which 11 were listed as endangered or critically endangered.
Two may already be extinct: Bouvier’s red colobus (Procolobus pennantii bouvieri) has not been seen in 25 years, and no living Miss Waldron’s red colobus (Procolobus badius waldroni) has been seen by a primatologist since 1978, despite occasional reports that some still survive
Photograph: Tom Struhsaker/Conservation International
(via: Guardian UK)

Kirk’s red colobus (Procolobus kirkii) is one of the 13 species of red colobus monkey assessed in Africa, of which 11 were listed as endangered or critically endangered.

Two may already be extinct: Bouvier’s red colobus (Procolobus pennantii bouvieri) has not been seen in 25 years, and no living Miss Waldron’s red colobus (Procolobus badius waldroni) has been seen by a primatologist since 1978, despite occasional reports that some still survive

Photograph: Tom Struhsaker/Conservation International

(via: Guardian UK)

The grey-shanked douc langur (Pygathrix cinerea) is found in Vietnam. In Asia, more than 70% of primates are classified on the IUCN ‘red list’ as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered; in both Vietnam and Cambodia, approximately 90% of primate species are considered at risk of extinction.
Photograph: Tilo Nadler/Conservation International
(via: Guardian UK)

The grey-shanked douc langur (Pygathrix cinerea) is found in Vietnam. In Asia, more than 70% of primates are classified on the IUCN ‘red list’ as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered; in both Vietnam and Cambodia, approximately 90% of primate species are considered at risk of extinction.

Photograph: Tilo Nadler/Conservation International

(via: Guardian UK)

From Shakespearean sonnets to impassioned speeches to lovers’ whispers, human language is an amazingly rich form of expression, whose evolution has long puzzled scientists.

Now, some researchers propose that human language represents the blending of two different communication systems, those found in songbirds and monkeys. Content-based language may have its roots in monkey alarm calls, while grammar may come from the expressive parts of bird song…

Endangered Mongoose Lemur Born in Captivity

In April, Kikeli, a Critically Endangered Mongoose lemur (Eulemur mongoz), gave birth to the first infant of 2014 at Lemur Conservation Foundation in Florida. Kikeli’s new infant is starting to climb around on mom a lot, and is reaching out to one-year-old brother, Silvio, and dad Felix…

Learn more: ZooBorns

The owl-faced monkey (Cercopithecus hamlyni) is found mainly in bamboo and tropical moist forests of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Rep. of Congo. It is one of 218 mammal species found in Virunga, including 22 primates.  The monkey is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Many of its haunts are being lost as forests are cleared for agriculture. It is also caught in the crossfire of a civil war. The population is estimated to have declined by 30 per cent in the past three decades. image: Rod Williams/Naturepl.com
(via: New Scientist)

The owl-faced monkey (Cercopithecus hamlyni) is found mainly in bamboo and tropical moist forests of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Rep. of Congo. It is one of 218 mammal species found in Virunga, including 22 primates.

The monkey is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Many of its haunts are being lost as forests are cleared for agriculture. It is also caught in the crossfire of a civil war. The population is estimated to have declined by 30 per cent in the past three decades.

image: Rod Williams/Naturepl.com

(via: New Scientist)

Mountain Gorillas, Virunga National Park, DR of Congo
There are only about 300 mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) left in the world, and they are classed as critically endangered on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). There are two subpopulations, one in Virunga National Park and one in the nearby Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.  The Virunga population is not threatened by the ongoing oil exploration in Lake Edward. However their numbers have been slashed in recent years by illegal poaching, civil war, and through catching diseases from encroaching humans.  The IUCN warns that populations could tumble a further 25 per cent over the next two decades.  Image: Danita Delimont/Gallo/Getty
(via: New Scientist)
Mountain Gorillas, Virunga National Park, DR of Congo

There are only about 300 mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) left in the world, and they are classed as critically endangered on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). There are two subpopulations, one in Virunga National Park and one in the nearby Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.

The Virunga population is not threatened by the ongoing oil exploration in Lake Edward. However their numbers have been slashed in recent years by illegal poaching, civil war, and through catching diseases from encroaching humans.

The IUCN warns that populations could tumble a further 25 per cent over the next two decades.

Image: Danita Delimont/Gallo/Getty

(via: New Scientist)

With the cooperation of hundreds of ranchers and researchers, Azuero Earth Project aims to replant a swath of tropical dry forest, connecting the dry tropical forest on the coast to cloud forest further inland. The trees along the 140-kilometer (80-mile) wildlife corridor will create a continuous habitat for the Critically Endangered Azuero spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi azuerensis) and improve the soil for people who farm and ranch along the way…

The Lar gibbon (Hylobates lar) is a primate found in South-East Asia. This endangered gibbon species is primarily a frugivore, but may also feed on leaves, flowers, and insects. This specimen was photographed in Kaeng Krachan National Park, Phetchaburi, Thailand.
Photograph: JJ Harrison                                                        via: Wikipedia

The Lar gibbon (Hylobates lar) is a primate found in South-East Asia. This endangered gibbon species is primarily a frugivore, but may also feed on leaves, flowers, and insects. This specimen was photographed in Kaeng Krachan National Park, Phetchaburi, Thailand.

Photograph: JJ Harrison                                                        via: Wikipedia

Keepers at Paignton Zoo have stepped in to hand-raise a Pygmy Slow Loris baby that was neglected by its mother.

Dedicated keepers at Paignton Zoo in England are caring for a rare baby that weighed little more than a CD at birth.

The Pygmy Slow Loris – which weighed just 22 grams when it was born - was one of twins born to a first-time mother. One twin did not survive, and keepers stepped in to save the other when its mother abandoned it.

For the first night Head Mammal Keeper Craig Gilchrist slept in an office at the zoo, feeding the tiny youngster every couple of hours. It was given a milk replacer using a 1 milliliter syringe and a small rubber teat…

Read more: Zooborns