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Animal Intelligence

 

 

EXPERTS EXPLAIN THE INTELLIGENCE OF VARIOUS ANIMAILS
Bonobo, Cat, Crow, Dog, Dolphin, Elephant, Honeybee, Hyena, Octopus

Animal Sentience
Quotes from Scientists & Experts Devoted to the subject of animal conscious thought and feelings.

Meet the Brains of the Animal World The Corvids - a group that includes crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays and magpies the animal knows it is looking at itself and could possess some kind of self-awareness. So far, only some species of primates have consistently passed this self-recognition test, although more recent studies suggest elephants and dolphins may also respond.

Mirror test implies elephants self-aware
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061030/ap_on_sc/self_aware_elephant
If you're Happy and you know it, pat your head. That, in a peanut shell, is how a 34-year-old female Asian elephant in the Bronx Zoo showed researchers that pachyderms can recognize themselves in a mirror — complex behavior observed in only a few other species.
The test results suggest elephants — or at least Happy — are self-aware. The ability to distinguish oneself from others had been shown only in humans, chimpanzees and, to a limited extent, dolphins.
That self-recognition may underlie the social complexity seen in elephants, and could be linked to the empathy and altruism that the big-brained animals have been known to display, said researcher Diana Reiss, of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the Bronx Zoo.
In a 2005 experiment, Happy faced her reflection in an 8-by-8-foot mirror and repeatedly used her trunk to touch an "X" painted above her eye. The elephant could not have seen the mark except in her reflection. Furthermore, Happy ignored a similar mark, made on the opposite side of her head in paint of an identical smell and texture, that was invisible unless seen under black light.
" t seems to verify for us she definitely recognized herself in the mirror," said Joshua Plotnik, one of the researchers behind the study. Details appear this week on the Web site of the Proceedings of theNational Academy of Sciences.
Still, two other zoo elephants, Maxine and Patty, failed to touch either the visible or invisible "X" marks on their heads in two runs of the experiment. But all three adult female elephants at the zoo behaved while in front of the jumbo mirror in ways that suggested they recognized themselves, said Plotnik, a graduate student at Emory University in Atlanta.
Maxine, for instance, used the tip of her trunk to probe the inside of her mouth while facing the mirror. She also used her trunk to slowly pull one ear toward the mirror, as if she were using the reflection to investigate herself. The researchers reported not seeing that type of behavior at any other time.
"Doing things in front of the mirror: that spoke volumes to me that they were definitely recognizing themselves," said Janine Brown, a research physiologist and elephant expert at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington. She was not connected with the study but expressed interest in conducting follow-up research.
Gordon Gallup, the psychologist who devised the mark test in 1970 for use on chimps, called the results "very strong and very compelling." But he said additional studies on both elephants and dolphins were needed.
"They really need to be replicated in order to be able to say with any assurance that dolphins and elephants indeed as species are capable of recognizing themselves. Replication is the cornerstone of science," said Gallup, a professor at the State University of New York at Albany, who provided advice to the researchers.
The three Bronx Zoo elephants did not display any social behavior in front of the mirror, suggesting that each recognized the reflected image as itself and not another elephant. Many other animals mistake their mirror reflections for other creatures.
That divergent species such as elephants and dolphins should share the ability to recognize themselves as distinct from others suggests the characteristic evolved independently, according to the study.
Elephants and mammoths, now extinct, split from the last common ancestor they shared with mastodons, also extinct, about 24 million years ago. In a separate study also appearing this week on the scientific journal's Web site, researchers report finding fossil evidence of an older species that links modern elephants to even older ancestors.
The likely "missing link" is a 27 million-year-old jaw fossil, found in Eritrea.

Apes Able to Think Ahead

Humans show remarkable foresight. From storing food to carrying tools, we can imagine, prepare for and, ultimately, steer the course of the future. Although many animals hoard food or build shelters, there is scant evidence that they ponder the long-term ramifications of their actions or the future more generally. But new research hints that our ape brethren may share our ability to think ahead.
Nicholas Mulcahy and Josep Call of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig tested whether our closest great ape relative--the bonobo--and our most distant--the orangutan--share our ability to plan for the future. The researchers first trained five bonobos and five orangutans to use a tool to get a fruit treat from a mechanical apparatus. They then blocked access to the treat but allowed the apes to handle suitable and unsuitable tools for the task before ushering them into a waiting room for an hour. After that hour, they were brought back into the first room and, if they had brought the right tool, they could use it to get the treat.
The apes both took a suitable tool out of the test room and brought it back in with them after the waiting period significantly more often than predicted by chance. A female orangutan named Dokana proved particularly adept, completing the task successfully in 15 out of 16 attempts. Even when the delay time was extended through the night--14 hours--Dokana succeeded in garnering the tool and the fruit more than half of the time. A bonobo named Kuno did even better with the long delay than the short one, completing the task in eight out of 12 attempts.
To determine whether the apes were simply associating the tool with the food reward, or whether they were actively planning ahead, the researchers devised two more tests. In the first, two of the bonobos and two of the orangutans faced a similar challenge but with only juice as a reward--to discount for the possibility that the apes had taken the right tool previously simply because they were currently hungry. Again, the apes proved capable.
Finally, some nave apes were presented with tools but not the mechanical apparatus. If they brought back the right tool they were still rewarded with a treat. But most did not, seemingly disproving a simple associative link between the tool and the treat. "Apes selected, transported and saved a suitable tool not because they currently needed it but because they would need it in the future," the authors write in the paper presenting the research in today's Science.
That bonobos and orangutans can plan ahead suggests that the ability evolved in the great apes prior to 14 million years ago rather than in our hominid forebearers within the past 2.5 million years, the scientists note. And other creatures may have undergone convergent cognitive evolution. Indeed, another study published online yesterday by Science found that scrub jays hid and re-hid food depending on whether they were watched by other birds. -- David Biello Source

Dolphins Name Themselves With Whistles, Study Says James Owen May 8, 2006
 Dolphins give themselves "names"distinctive whistles that they use to identify each other, new research shows. Scientists say it's the first time wild animals have been shown to call out their own names. What's more, the marine mammals can recognize individual names even when the sound is produced by an unfamiliar voice.

Counting lions roar for help - Source

The Nature of Intelligence
The g factor in non-human animals. Anderson, B. (2000). In G. R. Bock, J. A. Goode, & K. Webb (Eds.), (pp. 79-95). New York: Wiley.
These studies show that there are individual differences in the ability to solve novel problems--problems requiring the ability to "combine non-contiguously learned behaviors into a solution for a novel problem" (p. 81). Anderson extracted a single factor from three such tests and showed performance on the tests was positively correlated with brain size (also known to correlate with general intelligence in humans).

Heinrich, B. (2000) Testing Intelligence and solving problems insight among ravens

Human general intelligence
evolved as an ability underlying solving novel problems: Chiappe, D., & MacDonald, K. B. (2003, Oct.). The Evolution of Domain-General Mechanisms in Intelligence and Learning. In C. Heyes and L. Huber (Eds.), The evolution of cognition (pp. 289-305). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Birds Gain Respect 2/1/05
Birdbrain has long been a colloquial term of ridicule. The common notion is that birds' brains are simple, or so scientists thought and taught for many years. But that notion has increasingly been called into question as crows and parrots, among other birds, have shown what appears to be behavior as intelligent as that of chimpanzees.

Parrot Proves It's No Birdbrain Jul. 20, 2005
http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,68226,00.html  
At the ripe age of 29, Intelligent Alex has mastered important tasks like counting to six, understanding that corn is yellow, and knowing the differences among a variety of shapes. Call him a birdbrain if you must; he'll probably take it as a compliment. This is because Alex, an African gray parrot, is a prime example of birds' abilities to exhibit higher brain functions than humans usually give them credit for.

Evolution: On the Evolution of Bird Intelligence
http://scienceweek.com/2006/sw060113-4.htm
The following points are made by N.J. Emery and N.S. Clayton (Current Biology 2005 15:R946)
1) In Western society, the term "bird brain" is often used as a
derogatory term for a person of diminished intellect, partly because many people tend to think of birds as pecking machines, responding reflexively to stimuli in their environment, and partly because birds seem so different from us, with their beady eyes and small heads. But over 40 years ago William Thorpe, who was the leading authority on bird learning at that time, pointed out: The poor development in birds of any brain structures clearly corresponding to the cerebral cortex of mammals led to the assumption among neurologists not only that birds are primarily creatures of instinct, but also that they are very little endowed with the ability to learn...This misconceived view of brain mechanisms hindered the development of experimental studies on bird learning .
2) In the 1960s little was known about the cognitive capacities of birds, but recent studies lend support for Thorpe's view: we now know that some bird species make and use tools, can count, remember specific past events and reason about the mental states of individuals, behaviors that some have considered to be unique to humans. Despite the apparent cognitive similarity between humans and some birds, neuroscientists have tended to view bird brains as interesting curiosities with little relevance to the workings of the human brain. Recently, however, the Avian Brain Nomenclature Consortium published a series of papers attempting to re-address the issue of the importance of the bird brain to neuroscience by investigating how the avian brain evolved, how the structure of the avian brain relates to that of the mammalian brain, and how names have had a negative influence on how birds are perceived.
3) Negativity surrounding the avian brain began in the late 19th century, when Ludwig Edinger provided names for the various parts of the vertebrate brain. His form of nomenclature was based on the nave view that evolution occurs in a linear progression, so that each new species is an elaboration of an older species. This "scala naturae" is often represented as a ladder. With respect to intelligence, Arthur Jensen, one of the key recent figures in studies of human intelligence, has argued that single-cell protozoans, such as amoeba, rank at the bottom of the scale, followed in order by the invertebrates, the lower vertebrates, the lower mammals... and finally the primates, in order: New World monkeys, Old World monkeys, the apes, and at the pinnacle, humans.
4) With respect to brain evolution, Edinger applied this scala naturae suggesting that the brains of living vertebrates retained ancestral structures, but that new brain areas were added onto older ones, or older areas increased in size and complexity to form new areas.  According to this view, evolutionarily older brains are simple, and so produce simple instinctive behavior, and evolutionarily newer brains are complex, and therefore can control learned and intelligent behavior. The oldest brain regions -- those present in all vertebrates -- were prefixed with the term "paleo-", the next oldest brain regions were given the prefix "archi-", whereas the new brain regions -- those present in the species closest to the top of the "ladder" -- were assigned the prefix "neo-".
5) We now know that, as with other parts of the body, the brains of distantly related species tend to be derived from the same basic elements found in the common ancestor -- they exhibit homology. So although the common ancestor of birds and mammals lived approximately 300 million years ago, studies of extant reptiles have revealed that the reptilian (therapsid and sauropsid) forebrain is pallial in origin, and so the common ancestor should also have shared this trait. If so, then the forebrain of modern birds and mammals will also be pallial. This seems to be the case.[1-5]
References (abridged):
1. Avian Brain Nomenclature Consortium, (2005). Avian brains and a new  understanding of vertebrate brain evolution. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 6,151-159
2. Emery, N.J. (2005). Cognitive ornithology: The evolution of avian intelligence. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. Lon. Biol. Sci., in press
3. Emery, N.J. and Clayton, N.S. (2004). The mentality of crows:convergent evolution of intelligence in corvids and apes. Science 306, 1903-1907
4. Pepperberg, I.M. (1999). The Alex Studies: Cognitive and
communicative abilities of grey parrots. Harvard University Press,Cambridge, MA
5. Reiner, A., Perkel, D.J., Bruce, L.L., Butler, A.B., Csillag, A., Kuenzel, W., Medina, L., Paxinos, G., Shimizu, T., Striedter, G. et al. (2004). Revised nomenclature for avian telencephalon and some related brainstem nuclei. J. Comp. Neurol. 473, 377-414 Current Biology http://www.current-biology.com
Related Material:ON TOOL-MAKING BY CROWS
Notes by ScienceWeek: In this context, a "stepped tool" is a tapered tool whose tapering involves a series of steps that sequentially narrow the short-axis diameter to make the tool end in a point.
The following points are made by G.R. Hunt et al (Nature 2001
414:707):
1) New Caledonian crows fashion tapered tools from either the left or the right edge of the long narrow leaves of pandanus trees or screw pines, the crows using the tools to extract invertebrates in rainforest vegetation. Although right-handedness is thought to be uniquely human, the authors demonstrate that crows from different localities display a widespread laterality in making their tools, indicating that this behavior is unlikely to be attributable to local social traditions or ecological factors. The authors state that to their knowledge this is the first demonstration of a species-level
laterality in manipulatory skills outside humans.
2) The use of left or right leaf-edges by crows depends in part on the direction in which the leaves spiral. Clockwise- spiraling leaves provide easier access to left edges, and anti-clockwise spiraling provide easier access to right edges. This access effect was overridden, however, by an island-wide preference for manufacturing tools from left edges.
3) It has been proposed that right-handedness in humans may be a consequence of the evolution of language, which is also predominantly left-hemispheric. The authors suggest their results favor the more general possibility that species-level lateralization is an adaptation for the efficient neural programming of complex sequential processing, of which language and right-handedness in humans, and stepped-tool
manufacture in crows are examples.
Nature http://www.nature.com/nature
  
Related Material:
NATURAL HISTORY: ON THE MAGNETIC COMPASS OF SONGBIRDS
The following points are made by W.W. Cochran et al (Science 2004 304:405):
1) Billions of songbirds migrate between continents twice each year, but their orientation capabilities are almost exclusively studied in the laboratory. The authors presented birds with experimentally altered orientation cues and followed their subsequent migratory flights in the wild. Avian navigation capabilities are very precise
(1), with many individuals returning to the same breeding sites year after year (1-3) after a voyage of up to 25,000 km (4, ).
2) Migratory songbirds can orient on the basis of compass information from the sun and its associated polarized light patterns, the stars, the earth's magnetic field, and the memorization of spatial cues en route. However, the interactions and relative importance of these cues remain unclear and a source of much debate. Our knowledge about the orientation mechanisms of songbirds relies almost exclusively on data from cue-manipulated captive migrants tested in various orientation cages, on vanishing bearings based on the first few hundred meters of flight, and to a much lesser degree on field data (ringing and radar and visual observations) from unmanipulated natural migrants.
 3) On clear evenings, the authors fitted Catharus thrushes with radio transmitters and placed them in outdoor cages in an artificial eastward-turned magnetic field from about sunset until the sun was 11deg or more below the horizon when they were set free. The authors then radio-tracked the birds in flight to obtain heading data. Because Catharus thrushes do not compensate for wind drift but individuals maintain nearly constant preferred headings from night to night, the authors used measured headings for orientation analyses.
4) In summary: Night migratory songbirds can use stars, sun,
geomagnetic field, and polarized light for orientation when tested in captivity. The authors studied the interaction of magnetic, stellar, and twilight orientation cues in free-flying songbirds. The authors exposed Catharus thrushes to eastward-turned magnetic fields during the twilight period before takeoff and then followed them for up to 1100 kilometers. Instead of heading north, experimental birds flew westward. On subsequent nights, the same individuals migrated northward again. The authors suggest that birds orient with a magnetic compass calibrated daily from twilight cues, and that this could explain how birds cross the magnetic equator and deal with declination.
References (abridged):
1. P. Berthold, E. Gwinner, E. Sonnenschein, Eds., Avian Migration (Springer, Berlin, 2003)
2. J. P. Hoover, Ecology 84, 416 (2003)
3. P. O. Dunn, D. W. Winkler, Proc. R. Soc. London Ser. B. 266, 2487 (1999)
4. D. C. Outlaw, et al., Auk 120, 299 (2003)
5. W. L. Engels, Biol. Bull. 123, 94 (1962)
Science http://www.sciencemag.org

LANGUAGE

 

Dr. Irene Pepperberg - Studies in Animal Behavior, and Animal-Human communications have provided insight into the capabilities of these animals to talk and to understand.

The adroit selection of the appropriate lexigrams in correct syntax by a chimp called Lana, as well as the simian's desire for new lexigrams for items not originally programmed into the computer, led to Rumbaugh's confident conclusion (1984) that apes learn language in a meaningful way (Craighead-George, 1985).

Monkey Talk by Rachel Jones 2/5/03
http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nrn/journal/v4/n2/full/nrn1043_fs.html

Claims that a pygmy chimp called Kanzi has developed the ability to talk hit the headlines around the world when they were published in the New Scientist (UK 2 January 2003). Although the BBC Online maintained an air of quiet scepticism - "Ape 'learns to talk'" - others were more enthusiastic, with the Times of India (2 January 2003) proclaiming "Speaking chimpanzee leaves experts amazed".
The researchers working with Kanzi, Jared Taglialatela and Sue Savage-Rumbaugh of Georgia State University, claim that the chimp spontaneously started making four distinct sounds, corresponding to the words 'banana', 'grapes', 'juice' and 'yes'. Kanzi, like other primates, can communicate by pointing at symbols - but this is the first report of an ape making sounds that have distinct meanings across different situations. According to the Straits Times (Singapore 3 January 2003), the claims "...challenge the long-held belief that apes have no language ability."
As the New Zealand Herald (4 January 2003) points out, scientists disagree over what constitutes 'language'. "Some linguists believe that even symbolic communication, which many chimps achieve, qualifies as language, but many now say some mastery of syntax is also required." In the New Scientist, Frans de Waal of Emory University spoke for the primatology community when he said, " Sometimes we feel it's a bit unfair that [linguists] move the goalposts as soon as we get near."
If the claims hold up, Kanzi will become as famous as Washoe, the chimp who first learned American Sign Language. Primatologist John Mitani of the University of Michigan commented, "There have to be evolutionary precursors to what we do. We are beginning to find them in the primate world." (New Zealand Herald).

Lab chimp speaks his own language 10:15 02 January 03 Exclusive from New Scientist
http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993218
A bonobo has surprised his trainers by appearing to make up his own " words". It is the first report of an ape making sounds that seem to hold their meaning across different situations, and the latest challenge to the orthodox view that animals do not have language.Kanzi is an adult bonobo kept at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He has grown up in captivity among humans, and is adept at communicating with symbols. He also understands some spoken English, and can respond to phrases such as "go out of the cage" and "do you want a banana?"Jared Taglialatela and Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, who work with Kanzi, noticed that he was making gentle noises during his interactions with them. "We wanted to know if there was any rhyme or reason to when they were produced," says Taglialatela.So his team studied 100 hours of videotape showing Kanzi's day-to-day interactions and analysed the sounds he made at various times. They picked situations in which the bonobo's actions were unambiguous: for example, while he was eating a banana, pointing to the symbol for "grapes", or responding to a request to go outside by leaving the cage.They identified four sounds that Kanzi made in different contexts - banana, grapes, juice and yes. In each of these contexts, Kanzi made the same sound. "We haven't taught him this," says Taglialatela. "He's doing it on his own."

University chimp amazes scientists with own 'words' By David Derbyshire, Science Correspondent Full story
A chimpanzee has challenged the widely held view that animals do not have language by making up its own words from scratch. Kanzi, an adult bonobo or pygmy chimpanzee kept at Georgia State University, Atlanta, has come up with four distinct sounds for the things closest to his heart - banana, juice, grapes and yes. Although the choice of words may be a little predictable, it is the first report of an ape making sounds that seem to have the same meaning across different situations.

Ape 'learns to talk' Full text Wednesday, 1 January, 2003,
A chimp who has grown up among humans may have developed the ability to talk,claims a research team from the US. The findings, published in New Scientist magazine, may come under fire from other scientists. But they may further challenge the long-held belief that apes have no language ability. Kanzi, an adult pygmy chimp, is kept at Georgia State University in Atlanta, and, like many other primates, can communicate by pointing at symbols. However, researchers recently noticed that he was also making gentle noises while he interacted with humans. By studying many hours of videotape, Dr Jared Taglialatela and Dr Sue Savage-Rumbaugh spotted four distinct sounds that accompanied particular actions, corresponding to "banana", "grapes", "juice" and "yes". Even in different contexts, the chimp made the same sound.

"The Last Great Ape"
http://www.pbs.org/nova/bonobos
With its intelligent gaze, humanlike posture, and peaceful nature, it's no wonder the bonobo, one of five great apes, reminds us of ourselves. But while we share a common hominoid ancestor with bonobos as well as 98 percent of our DNA, this unique primate has been largely overlooked by all but a few scientists. Bonobos live in a region that has been consumed by war, which threatens their habitat and survival. Can we learn more about these intriguing, intelligent apes before it's too late? By interviewing leading experts and
traveling into the field, NOVA shines a spotlight on the
extraordinary behavior of the endangered bonobo.
Here's what you will find online:
The Bonobo in All of Us - Primatologist Frans de Waal on what the "make-love-not-war" primate tells us about ourselves
Read My Lips - See a slide show of bonobo gestures and facial expressions, and find out what they mean.
Kanzi the Bonobo - In this audio slide show, researcher Sue Savage-Rumbaugh describes one extraordinarily linguistic ape.
Our Family Tree - See (and hear) where you stand among the great apes in this audiovisual interactive.

Ancient Roots for an African Language?
'First language may have used clicks' October 2001
http://www.ananova.com/
Two scientists say a genetic study suggests the world's first language may have used clicks. Still found in parts of Africa, click languages rely on distinctive clicking sounds made by the tongue to form words. The US researchers say their study shows existing click speakers are genetically diverse, meaning their languages may be older than others. Click languages are still found in the Hadza tribe of Tanzania and the San groups of Botswana and Namibia.


Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 20:07 GMT FULL TEXT
Ape brains show linguistic promise Three members of the family of great apes have a crucial speech-related brain feature previously thought unique to humans. This is the finding of a pair of researchers in Atlanta, Georgia, US, who carried out magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans on chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas.They say they were surprised no-one had looked for the crucial lopsided structure in great apes before. The discovery could imply that evolution of brain structures linked to speech began before the ancestors of humans and apes parted ways. Puzzling discrepancy Brodmann's area 44 is part of the Broca's area in the human brain.

Apes have same speech area in brain as humans By Steve Connor Science Editor 11/3001
Gorillas and chimpanzees possess a rudimentary speech centre within their brains that until now was thought to be unique to humans, scientists have found. Brain scans of the apes ­ man's closest living relatives ­ have revealed a small, lopsided structure buried in the front part of the head which in humans is critical for language. The structure, Brodmann's area 44, is part of the language centre known as Broca's area, and the scans reveal that it is larger and more developed in the left half of the ape's brain than in the right hemisphere ­ just as it is in humans. Claudio Cantalupo and William Hopkins, who conducted the study at the Yerkes Primate Research Centre at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, were surprised such a critical feature within the ape's brain had gone unnoticed.

Scientists Report Finding a Gene for Speech October 4, 2001 By NICHOLAS WADE
A team of geneticists and linguists say they have found a gene that underlies speech and language, the first to be linked to this uniquely human faculty. The discovery buttresses the idea that language is acquired and generated by specific neural circuitry in the brain,rather than by general brain faculties. The gene, which joins a handful known to affect human behavior, is of particular interest because its role is to switch on a cascade of other genes in the developing brain of the fetus. Biologists hope that by identifying these "downstream" genes, they may be able to unravel the genetic basis of human language.

Researchers Find Language Gene Wednesday October 3 2:59 PM ET By MARGIE MASON,
Scientists say they have discovered the first gene tied to a language and speech disorder - a find that may bring the genetics revolution closer to identifying the biological roots of conscious thought and defining what it means to be human.
The gene, FOXP2, is not specifically a gene that enables us to talk. Instead, it is responsible for a protein that enables the brain's language circuitry to function.The researchers say they discovered a mutated form of FOXP2 that is associated with a speech disorder that impairs movement of the mouth, lips and tongue and causes problems such as use of the wrong word tense. Some researchers suggest the discovery is a clue into the mechanics of cognitive thought, how babies develop into adults, and even how humans evolved from lower forms of life.

Lifestyle accounts for difference in chimp, human genome

DNA analysis for chimpanzees and humans reveals striking differences in genes for smell, metabolism and hearing
FOR RELEASE: Dec. 18, 2003 Contact: Roger Segelken Office: 607-255-9736 E-Mail: hrs2@cornell.edu

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Nearly 99 percent alike in genetic makeup, chimpanzees and humans might be even more similar were it not for what researchers call "lifestyle" changes in the 6 million years that separate us from a common ancestor. Specifically, two key differences are how humans and chimps perceive smells and what we eat.
A massive gene-comparison project involving two Cornell University scientists,and reported in the latest issue of the journal Science (Dec. 12, 2003), found these and many other differences in a search for evidence of accelerated evolution and positive selection in the genetic history of humans and chimps.
In the most comprehensive comparison to date of the genetic differences between two primates, the genomic analysts found evidence of positive selection in genes involved in olfaction, or the ability to sense and process information about odors. "Human and chimpanzee sequences are so similar, we were not sure that this kind of analysis would be informative," says evolutionary geneticist Andrew G. Clark, Cornell professor of molecular biology and genetics. "But we found hundreds of genes showing a pattern of sequence change consistent with adaptive evolution occurring in human ancestors." Those genes are involved in the sense of smell, in digestion, in long-bone growth, in hairiness and in hearing. "It is a treasure-trove of ideas to test by more careful comparison of human and chimpanzee development and physiology," Clark says.
According to Clark, all mammals have an extensive repertoire of olfactoryreceptors, genes that allow specific recognition of the smell of different substances. "The signature of positive selection is very strong in both humans and chimps for tuning the sense of smell, probably because of its importance in finding food and perhaps mates," says Clark. In addition to the great departure in smell perception, differences in amino acid metabolism also seem to affect chimps' and humans' abilities to digest dietary protein and could date back to the time when early humans began eating more meat, Clark speculates. Anthropologists believe that this occurred around 2 million years ago, in concert with a major climate change.
"This study also gives tantalizing clues to an even more complex difference -- the ability to speak and understand language," Clark says. "Perhaps some of the genes that enable humans to understand speech work not only in the brain, but also are involved in hearing." Evidence for this came from a particularly strong sign of selection acting on the gene that codes for an obscure protein in the tectorial membrane of the inner ear. One form of congenital deafness in humans is caused by mutations to this gene, called alpha tectorin.
Mutations in alpha tectorin result in poor frequency response of the ear, making it hard to understand speech. "It's something like replacing the soundboard of a Stradivarius violin with a piece of plywood," Clark notes. The large divergence between humans and chimps in alpha tectorin, he says, could imply that humans needed to tune the protein for specific attributes of their sense of hearing. This leads Clark to wonder whether one of the difficulties in training chimpanzees to understand human speech is that their hearing is not quite up to the task. Although studies of chimpanzee hearing have been done, detailed tests of their transient response have not been carried out. Clark emphasizes that a study like this cannot prove that the biology of humans and chimps differ because of this or that particular gene. "But it generates many hypotheses that can be tested to yield insight into exactly why only 1 percent in DNA sequence difference makes us such different beasts," he says.

 

CULTURE

 

Chimps show sign of culture
Chimpanzees stick to the majority behaviour of their peers.
Full Text at Nature
Chimps can use tools to help them find food - and then teach these tricks to each other. Chimps can not only use tools, but also seem to follow the fashion in how they are used.
Researchers have found that a group of chimpanzees will stick to the same method used by their peers, even if they stumble across a different way of using a tool by themselves. That shows that chimps follow a cultural norm that is socially learned and maintained, the researchers say - proof, perhaps, that chimpanzees really do have culture. Chimpanzees are known to have many complex behaviours, including tool use and grooming, that place them second only to humans. Scientists have long assumed that chimpanzee populations maintain such traditions the same way humans do: by learning to imitate each other.

2 January 2003 Orangutans Said to Exhibit Hallmarks of Culture By CAROL KAESUK YOON Full text
Orangutans, those red-haired knuckle-dragging apes, are loping today into the upper echelons of the primate hierarchy. According to research reported in the journal Science, they exhibit what was until very recently considered a uniquely human attribute, culture. Drawing on years of research and thousands of hours of observations from six sites in the wild, an international team of scientists found evidence that orangutan groups differ across a spectrum from bedtime rituals to eating habits to sexual practices, patterns of behavior learned from being around others in a group that scientists call culture. Other researchers said four years ago that chimpanzees also exhibited widespread cultural differences, for example, in how they groom, hunt, eat and so on. Scientists say that the new work suggests that the two remaining great-ape species, gorillas and bonobos, are highly likely to have culture, as well, and that great-ape culture dates from at least the group's origin 14 million years ago.

Study Suggests Orangutans Are Cultured Full Text
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some orangutan parents teach their offspring to use leaves as napkins. Others say good night with a spluttering, juicy raspberry. And still others get water from a hole by dipping a branch and then licking the leaves. These are examples, researchers say, that prove the orangutan is a cultured ape, able to learn new living habits and to pass them along to the next generation. The discovery, reported in a study appearing Friday in the journal Science, suggests that early primates, which include the ancestors of humans, may have developed the ability to invent new behaviors, such as tool use, as early as 14 million years ago. That would be some 6 million years earlier than once believed.

Rethinking Primate Aggression
Researcher Frans de Waal shows that apes (and humans) get along better than we thought "Chimpanzees have something like 'community concern,'" he says. "They live in a group and they have to get along, and their life is going to be better if their community is better." In the end, de Waal believes, the evolution of humans and other primates may point more toward such altruism and cooperation than a ruthless survival of the fittest.

 

Resources

Penelope Smith P.O. Box 1060, Point Reyes, CA 94956 (415) 663-1247 penelope@animaltalk.net Founding pioneer in the field. Author of Animal Talk & When Animals Speak, audio & video recordings, and editor of quarterly journal, Species Link. Lectures. Master Classes. Retreats. Training program. Mentoring. Not available for animal consultations.
http://www.animaltalk.net/consultlist.htm#CODE_OF_ETHICS_for_INTERSPECIES_TELEPAT


PENNSYLVANIA
Shalini Bosbyshell P.O. Box 215, Elverson, PA 19520 (610) 913-0033 shalini@nni.com; www.shalinibosbyshell.com Phone consultations by appointment. All issues and situations.

Jane Crowley 2232 Highland Circle, Harrisburg, PA 17110 (717) 652-6099 Offering healing modalities suited to the situation for animals & their human companions. Recommended by vets & show people.

Anita Curtis* P.O. Box 182, Gilbertsville, PA 19525 (610) 327-3820 amicom@aol.com; www.anitacurtis.com Consultations by phone. Lectures. Workshops. Books. http://www.anitacurtis.com/

Cindy Paterson 781 Hillsdale Road, West Chester, PA 19382 (610) 696-3756 Consultations by phone. Emergency Service. Workshops.

Marlene Sandler* P.O. Box 476, Warrington, PA 18976 (215) 491-0707 Problem solving for people & their animal friends. M.Ed. in counseling; practicing since 1981. Workshops, lectures, consultations, Reiki healing & attunements.

Whitney Taylor P.O. Box 336, Mercersburg, PA 17236 (717) 372-0441 Reiki/Seichem Master. Lost and missing pets. Consultations by phone.

Cindy Wenger Hershey, PA (717) 566-0922 www.PeaceableKingdomAC.com phone consultations, lectures, workshops, Reiki/Seichem Master, Certified Master Teacher in Magnified Healing.

RESOURCES

 

 

International Primate Protection League
PO Box 766 * Summerville * SC 29484 * US
[v] 843-871-2280 [f] 843-871-7988 Email

Koko.org - The Gorilla Foundation
Established in 1976, The Gorilla Foundation/Koko.org promotes the protection, preservation and propagation of gorillas. A primary focus involves teaching a modified form of American Sign Language to two lowland gorillas, Koko and Michael.

A Center for the Advanced Study of Ape and Human Evolution
"Living Links is a center for the study of ape and human evolution at Emory University and the Yerkes Primate Center. Through behavioral, neurological, and genetic research on great apes - 'living links' to our past - we look to illuminate human evolution."

Bushmeat Crisis Task Force (BCTF)

Dr. Jane Goodall
We all heard about this great woman, Dr. Jane Goodall, who dedicated her life observe Chimanzees in the wild. Here is a site which tells her story + pics.
Goodall's Biography

Listen to an excerpt from her memoir "Reason for Hope"
(TW AudioBooks), read by the Jane Goodall. A revolutionary study of chimpanzees in Tanzania's Gombe preserve forever altered the very definition of "humanity." Now, in "Reason for Hope," she explores her extraordinary life and personal spiritual odyssey, with observations as profound as the knowledge she has brought back from the forest.

 

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