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Meet the Monkey Cousins

In Thailand and Myanmar, crab-eating macaques use stone tools to open nuts, oysters and other bivalves, and various types of sea snails. Chacma baboons use stones as weapons; stoning by these baboons is done from the rocky walls of the canyon where they sleep and retreat to when they are threatened. Stones are lifted with one hand and dropped over the side whereupon they tumble down the side of the cliff or fall directly to the canyon floor. All primate infants are breastfed by their mothers and rely on them for grooming and transportation. In some species, infants are protected and transported by males in the group, particularly males who may be their fathers. Other relatives of the infant, such as siblings and aunts, may participate in its care as well.

Mothers will help their sons get more matings from females in oestrus. Bonobos are unusual among apes for their matriarchal social structure (extensive overlap between the male and female hierarchies leads some to refer to them as gender-balanced in their power structure). Bonobos do not have a defined territory and communities will travel over a wide range.

Estimates range from 60,000 to fewer than 50,000 living, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Starting in 2003, the U.S. government allocated $54 million to the Congo Basin Forest Partnership. This significant investment has triggered the involvement of international NGOs to establish bases in the region and work to develop bonobo conservation programs.

Researchers believe that human-to-human transmission is mostly through inhalation of large respiratory droplets rather than direct contact with bodily fluids or indirect contact through clothes. Human-to-human transmission rates for monkeypox have been limited. Primates are used as model organisms in laboratories and have been used in space missions. Capuchin monkeys can be trained to assist quadriplegic humans; their intelligence, memory, and manual dexterity make them ideal helpers. Only humans are recognized as persons and protected in law by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The legal status of NHPs, on the other hand, is the subject of much debate, with organizations such as the Great Ape Project campaigning to award at least some of them legal rights.

Although numerous species, such as australopithecines and early hominids, have exhibited fully bipedal locomotion, humans are the only extant species with this trait. Researchers have found that both central and eastern chimpanzees share more genetic material with bonobos than other chimpanzee subspecies. It is believed that genetic admixture has occurred at least two times within the past 550,000 years. In modern times hybridization between bonobos and chimpanzees in the wild is prevented as populations are allopatric and kept isolated on different sides of the Congo river. Acting on Action Plan recommendations, the ZSM developed the Bonobo and Congo Biodiversity Initiative.

For example, leaf eaters such as howler monkeys, black-and-white colobuses and sportive lemurs have extended digestive tracts which enable them to absorb nutrients from leaves that can be difficult to digest. Marmosets, which are gum eaters, have strong incisor teeth, enabling them to open tree bark to get to the gum, and claws rather than nails, enabling them to cling to trees while feeding. The aye-aye combines rodent-like teeth bear rugs for nursery with a long, thin middle finger to fill the same ecological niche as a woodpecker. It taps on trees to find insect larvae, then gnaws holes in the wood and inserts its elongated middle finger to pull the larvae out. For example, the grey-cheeked mangabey has thick enamel on its teeth, enabling it to open hard fruits and seeds that other monkeys cannot. The gelada is the only primate species that feeds primarily on grass.

Once the drone came into view, some of the monkeys produced an alarm call that the researchers had not heard in their prior 8 years of study in the park. The team recorded the calls and repeated the experiment with two other troops of green monkeys. Days after the drone flights, the researchers played an audio recording of the drone, which caused the monkeys to sound the alarm and scan the sky. But I think it’s the best time to be on the alert at the ports of entry, especially for people from countries where cases are reported. Studies done in Nigeria in the the 1980s and more recently in the 1990s provide evidence of possible previous infections with Marburg virus — or a related virus — in certain Nigerian populations. This leads me to believe that the virus is probably more widespread than we think it is.

Some evidence from the fossil record suggests that there was convergent evolution of dimorphism, and some extinct hominids probably had greater dimorphism than any living primate. Observations in the wild indicate that the males among the related common chimpanzee communities are hostile to males from outside the community. Parties of males ‘patrol’ for the neighboring males that might be traveling alone, and attack those single males, often killing them.