Archive for science

Ravens cooperate — but not with just anyone | EurekAlert! Science News

Ravens spontaneously solve a task that requires both coordination and cooperation — an ability that so far only a handful of species like chimpanzees and elephants have proved to master. A team of researchers led by Thomas Bugnyar of the Department of Cognitive Biology at the University of Vienna showed this for the ravens using an experimental set-up. The results of their study have been published in the scientific journal ‘Scientific Reports.’

This news release is available in German.

Several recent studies have already revealed that ravens are among the most intelligent species of birds and even species in general. The cognitive biologists from the University of Vienna now add cooperation the ravens’ already impressive resume. “From the wild, it was already known that ravens are able to cooperate when, for example, mobbing predators. But using an experimental set-up working with captive ravens now allowed us to investigate, how exactly they do so”, says lead-author Jorg Massen.

In the experiment two ravens had to simultaneously pull the two ends of one rope to slide a platform with two pieces of cheese into reach. If, however, only one individual would pull, the rope would slip through the loops on the platform and the birds were left with the rope and without cheese. Without any training the ravens spontaneously solved this task and cooperated successfully. However, it turned out that they didn’t do equally well with everybody, and that they rather work together with friends than with enemies.

Interesting was what happened when one of the two birds cheated and instead of taking only its own reward, also stole the reward of its companion. The victims of such cheats immediately noticed and started defecting in further trials with the same individual. “Such a sophisticated way of keeping your partner in check has previously only been shown in humans and chimpanzees, and is a complete novelty among birds”, ends Massen.

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Publication in “Scientific Reports
Massen, J.J.M., Ritter, C. & Bugnyar, T. (2015). Tolerance and reward equity predict cooperation in ravens (Corvus corax). Scientific Reports, 5: 15021.
Published online October 7th, 2015.
http://www.nature.com/articles/srep15021
Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep15021

Source: Ravens cooperate — but not with just anyone | EurekAlert! Science News

another link: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/ravens-can-spot-cheater-and-dont-it

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http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/young-male-chimpanzees-play-more-than-females-with-objects-but-do-not-become-better-tool-users

Young male chimpanzees play more than females with objects, but do not become better tool users

Research into differences between chimpanzees and bonobos in ‘preparation’ for tool use reveals intriguing sex bias in object manipulation in young chimpanzees – one that is partly mirrored in human children.

We found that male chimpanzees showed higher object manipulation rates than females, but their object manipulation was dominated by play

Kathelijne Koops

New research shows a difference between the sexes in immature chimpanzees when it comes to preparing for adulthood by practising object manipulation – considered ‘preparation’ for tool use in later life.

Researchers studying the difference in tool use between our closest living relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, found that immature bonobos have low rates of object manipulation, in keeping with previous work showing bonobos use few tools and none in foraging.

Chimpanzees, however, are the most diverse tool-users among non-human primates, and the researchers found high rates of a wide range of object manipulation among the young chimpanzees they studied.

While in adult wild chimpanzees it is females that are more avid and competent tool users, in juvenile chimpanzees the researchers conversely found it was the young males that spent more time manipulating objects, seemingly in preparation for adult tool use.

“In numerous mammalian species, sex differences in immatures foreshadow sex differences in the behaviour of adults, a phenomenon known as ‘preparation’,” said Dr Kathelijne Koops, who conducted the work at the University of Cambridge’s Division of Biological Anthropology, as well as at the Anthropological Institute and Museum at Zurich University.

Much of the time young male chimpanzees spent manipulating objects was dominated by ‘play’: with no apparent immediate goal, and often associated with a ‘play face’ – a relaxed expression of laughing or covering of upper teeth.

The sex bias for object manipulation the researchers found in juvenile chimpanzees is also found in human children. “The finding that in immature chimpanzees, like humans, object-oriented play is biased towards males may reflect a shared evolutionary history for this trait dating back to our last common ancestor,” write the researchers from Cambridge, Zurich and Kyoto, who studied communities of wild chimpanzees and bonobos in Uganda and Congo for several months, cataloguing not just all tool use, but all object manipulation.

Immature females, on the other hand, showed lower rates of object manipulation, especially in play, but displayed a much greater diversity of manipulation types than males – such as biting, breaking or carrying objects – rather than the play-based repetition seen in the object manipulation of immature males.

This seems to prepare the females better for future tool use. In an earlier study at Gombe (Tanzania), immature female chimpanzees were also observed to pay closer attention to their mothers using tools and became proficient tool users at an earlier age than males.

“Immature females seem to focus their attention on relevant tool use related tasks and thus learn quicker, whereas males seem to do more undirected exploration in play,” write the researchers.

They say they believe the findings show that not all object manipulation in juvenile chimpanzees is preparation for tool use, and the different types of object manipulation need to be considered.

The researchers say that the apparent similarity between human children and young chimpanzees in the observed male bias in object manipulation, and manipulation during play in particular, may suggest that object play functions as motor skill practice for male-specific behaviours such as dominance displays, which sometimes involve the aimed throwing of objects, rather than purely to develop tool use skills.

However, the researchers also point out that further work is needed to disentangle possible functions of object manipulation during development.

“We found that young chimpanzees showed higher rates and, importantly, more diverse types of object manipulation than bonobos. Despite being so closely related on the evolutionary tree, as well as to us, these species differ hugely in the way they use tools, and clues about the origins of human tool mastery could lie in the gulf between chimpanzees and bonobos,” Koops said.

“We found that male chimpanzees showed higher object manipulation rates than females, but their object manipulation was dominated by play. Young female chimpanzees showed much more diverse object manipulation types,” she said.

“We suggest that the observed male bias in young chimpanzees may reflect motor skill practice for male-specific behaviours, such as dominance displays, rather than for tool use skills. It seems that not all object manipulation in immatures prepares for subsistence tool use. It is important to take the types of manipulation into consideration.”

The researchers also found that in chimpanzees, but not bonobos, the types of objects manipulated became more tool-like as the apes age. “As young chimpanzees get older they switch to manipulating predominantly sticks, which in this community is the tool type used by adults to harvest army ants,” Koops explained.

This practice of ant ‘dipping’, when chimpanzees lure streams of insects onto a stick, then scoop them up by running a hand along the stick and into the mouth, provides a quick source of protein.

Koops added: “Given the close evolutionary relationship between chimpanzees, bonobos and humans, insights into species and sex differences in ‘preparation’ for tool use between chimpanzees and bonobos can help us shed light on the functions of the highly debated gender differences among children.”

The research is published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

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Why is the mating between the closely genetically related Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and Bonobos (Pan paniscus) so different?

All Things AAFS!

Taken from an assignment in which I was set the task to combat a controversial question and then create a conference paper on the topic for a Primate Behavioural Ecology unit. This is a comparative approach of factors that could attribute to the differences, and not a definitive answer – just my analysis of theories/my own conclusion.

Abstract:

Primates, Pan troglodytes and Pan paniscus, both speciated from a shared last common ancestor, yet they have very different mating behaviours. Pan troglodytes are known for their aggressive behaviour, even when it comes to mating. Pan paniscus on the other hand are known to perform sexual activities for purposes other than reproduction. There are many social, physiological and environmental factors which could have caused this diverse approach to reproduction. Within this paper I will be utilising past research, conducted on these contributing factors, to theorise why these primates have created two different…

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Exploration of The Bonobo (Pan paniscus) & College Research

Kathryn Clappison

The following report was for Primate Social Behavior, a biological anthropology course at the University of Michigan. I miss research.

IMG_9861

(This is a chimpanzee, not a bonobo, but I am determined to only use my own pictures)

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The “Trimates,” The Founding Mothers of Primatology

The Human Evolution Blog

Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birutė Galdikas Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birutė Galdikas

Science moves so fast in our modern era that we forget how young some scientific disciplines really are. Darwin founded evolutionary biology just over 150 years ago. Mendel did the same for modern genetics around the same time, although his work didn’t blossom (pardon the pun) until several decades later.

The scientific study of animal behavior didn’t really begin until well into the 20th century with the pioneering work of Ivan Pavlov, Konrad Lorenz, John Watson, and B.F. Skinner.

Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner

However, while those pioneers were mostly studying animals in laboratory conditions, others began to argue that to fully understand animal behavior, one must observe them in the wild, and over a great length of time, not just weeks or months. In the 1950s and 60s, as scientists began to patiently observe various animal species in their native environment and natural social context, they were overwhelmed…

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Gynandromorphy

Dowling Lab

A gynandromorph is an organism that possesses both male and female tissue.  Gynandromorphs can exhibit bilateral symmetry, with male characteristics on one side and female on the other, or can be a mosaic of male and female tissue.  Gynandromorphy has been observed in vertebrates and invertebrates, often resulting in striking displays of male and female characteristics on an individual animal.

Jungle nymph gynandronymph, male on left and female on right. Used with permission under the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2. Jungle nymph gynandronymph, male on left and female on right.
Used with permission under the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.

Gynandromorph cardinal. © Larry P. Ammann Gynandromorph cardinal.
© Larry P. Ammann

It’s thought to result from improper division of the sex chromosomes during the first few embryonic cell divisions. For example, in an organism with XY sex chromosomes, when the cell undergoes mitosis, normally the chromosomes duplicate (XXYY) and then divide into two cells, each with an X and Y. With a gynandromorph, when the XXYY split occurs, the two resulting cells are X…

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Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers

Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers

By Yasmin Anwar, Media Relations | April 30, 2012

“Love thy neighbor” is preached from many a pulpit. But new research from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that the highly religious are less motivated by compassion when helping a stranger than are atheists, agnostics and less religious people.

Study finds highly religious people are less motivated by compassion to show generosity than are non-believers

In three experiments, social scientists found that compassion consistently drove less religious people to be more generous. For highly religious people, however, compassion was largely unrelated to how generous they were, according to the findings which are published in the most recent online issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

The results challenge a widespread assumption that acts of generosity and charity are largely driven by feelings of empathy and compassion, researchers said. In the study, the link between compassion and generosity was found to be stronger for those who identified as being non-religious or less religious.

“Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not,” said UC Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer, a co-author of the study. “The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.”

Compassion is defined in the study as an emotion felt when people see the suffering of others which then motivates them to help, often at a personal risk or cost.

While the study examined the link between religion, compassion and generosity, it did not directly examine the reasons for why highly religious people are less compelled by compassion to help others. However, researchers hypothesize that deeply religious people may be more strongly guided by a sense of moral obligation than their more non-religious counterparts.

“We hypothesized that religion would change how compassion impacts generous behavior,” said study lead author Laura Saslow, who conducted the research as a doctoral student at UC Berkeley.

Saslow, who is now a postdoctoral scholar at UC San Francisco, said she was inspired to examine this question after an altruistic, nonreligious friend lamented that he had only donated to earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti after watching an emotionally stirring video of a woman being saved from the rubble, not because of a logical understanding that help was needed.

“I was interested to find that this experience – an atheist being strongly influenced by his emotions to show generosity to strangers – was replicated in three large, systematic studies,” Saslow said.

In the first experiment, researchers analyzed data from a 2004 national survey of more than 1,300 American adults. Those who agreed with such statements as “When I see someone being taken advantage of, I feel kind of protective towards them” were also more inclined to show generosity in random acts of kindness, such as loaning out belongings and offering a seat on a crowded bus or train, researchers found.

When they looked into how much compassion motivated participants to be charitable in such ways as giving money or food to a homeless person, non-believers and those who rated low in religiosity came out ahead: “These findings indicate that although compassion is associated with pro-sociality among both less religious and more religious individuals, this relationship is particularly robust for less religious individuals,” the study found.

In the second experiment, 101 American adults watched one of two brief videos, a neutral video or a heartrending one, which showed portraits of children afflicted by poverty. Next, they were each given 10 “lab dollars” and directed to give any amount of that money to a stranger. The least religious participants appeared to be motivated by the emotionally charged video to give more of their money to a stranger.

“The compassion-inducing video had a big effect on their generosity,” Willer said. “But it did not significantly change the generosity of more religious participants.”

In the final experiment, more than 200 college students were asked to report how compassionate they felt at that moment. They then played “economic trust games” in which they were given money to share – or not – with a stranger. In one round, they were told that another person playing the game had given a portion of their money to them, and that they were free to reward them by giving back some of the money, which had since doubled in amount.

Those who scored low on the religiosity scale, and high on momentary compassion, were more inclined to share their winnings with strangers than other participants in the study.

“Overall, this research suggests that although less religious people tend to be less trusted in the U.S., when feeling compassionate, they may actually be more inclined to help their fellow citizens than more religious people,” Willer said.

In addition to Saslow and Willer, other co-authors of the study are UC Berkeley psychologists Dacher Keltner, Matthew Feinberg and Paul Piff; Katharine Clark at the University of Colorado, Boulder; and Sarina Saturn at Oregon State University.

The study was funded by grants from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley’s Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging, and the Metanexus Institute.

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