Old Bonobos Need Reading Glasses Zoology 

Old Bonobos Need Reading Glasses

By Maarten Rikken A study released in Current Biology has found that bonobos’ eyesight becomes significantly reduced when they reach around 40 years of age. We talk to the study’s lead author, Heungjin Ryu, to find out why his discovery is a sign that we have even more in common with our primate relatives than we previously thought. ResearchGate: How would you sum up your main findings? Heungjin Ryu: We found that wild bonobos began to show symptoms of long-sightedness at around 40 years of age. We were surprised that the…

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North American Monkeys: Cebus capucinus. Photo by Sean Mattson, STRI Paleontology Zoology 

North American Monkeys Older Than Previously Thought

By Emily Rhode @riseandsci With the formation of the Isthmus of Panama, North and South America became connected by a thin but important strip of land that was at one time the location of a narrow seaway. As engineers recently worked to widen the Panama Canal that once again divides the two landmasses, a team of scientists acted quickly to dig through the rubble and collect newly unearthed fossils. What scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the University of Florida, and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and…

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Female Japanese macaques at the center of their social network had less lice thanks to the extra grooming they receive from their many friends. This was especially true during winter when macaques mate and during summer when they give birth. Photo by Julie Duboscq/Kyoto University Health Zoology 

For Macaques, More Friends Means Fewer Parasites

By Emily Rhode @riseandsci What if instead of just hanging out on lunch dates or at happy hour, people sat around and picked parasites from their friends’ bodies? That probably wouldn’t go over too well with humans, but primate researchers from Kyoto University have found that for Japanese macaques, popularity might just be the key to better health and hygiene. Winning This Popularity Contest Could Mean Fewer Lice for Female Macaques Normally, more social interaction between animals means more of a chance to spread parasites and disease (think being confined indoors…

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Sumatran orangutans Zoology 

Forest People: Sumatran Orangutans

Good news from the jungles of Sumatra: extensive survey shows that more than twice as many orangutans live in Sumatra as previously thought. By Steven Spence Good news from the jungles of Sumatra: thanks to an extensive survey, biologists now know that more than twice as many orangutans (Malay/Indonesian from orang = person and hutan = forest) live in Sumatra as previously thought. The population estimate from 2004 was 6,600 individuals. The current estimate is 14,600 orangutans.[1] No Jump in Orangutan Population The reason the number went up doesn’t have…

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Oldest Primate: Scientists believe Purgatorius looked similar to Dryomomys szalayi, another primitive primate discovered near Yellowstone National Park by Jonathan Bloch. (Illustration courtesy of Doug Boyer) Biology Paleontology 

Oldest Primates Lived in Trees

By Kate Stone A new study from the University of Florida suggests that humans’ earliest primate ancestor was a tree-dwelling creature. Named Purgatorius, scientists believe it looked like a cross between a squirrel and tree shrew, and weighed less than a deck of playing cards. This ancient animal was previously known only by its teeth. The shape of the teeth allowed paleontologists to determine the Purgatorius — estimated to have weighed about 3.5 ounces — ate insects and plants, but researchers knew little else about its lifestyle. With the discovery of…

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