A series of news stories about apes and monkeys

I’ve come across a number of interesting ape/monkey-related stories over the past few days.

The first is a finding by Japanese researchers that monkeys like watching television:

Researchers used near-infrared spectroscopy to determine that when monkeys watched circus animals perform acrobatics on TV, their brains’ pleasure centers lit up in roughly the same way a human baby’s does when it sees its mother smile. Just one more thing we have in common with monkeys.

Then came a story about the discovery of a 3.6 million year old ancestor of ‘Lucy’:

Cleveland Museum of Natural History Curator and Head of Physical Anthropology Dr. Yohnannes Haile-Selassie led an international team that discovered and analyzed a 3.6 million-year-old partial skeleton found in Ethiopia. The early hominid is 400,000 years older than the famous “Lucy” skeleton and is significantly larger in size. Research on the new specimen reveals that advanced human-like, upright walking occurred much earlier in the evolutionary timeline than previously thought.

For those keeping track, that’s 3,594,000 years before the existence of the entire universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

I'll make you an offer you can't refuse.

And then finally came the very unexpected story about chimpanzee gang turf wars. Yes, that’s right. I said “chimpanzee gang turf wars.” I think that may have been the name of my band in college.

Bands of chimpanzees violently kill individuals from neighboring groups in order to expand their own territory, according to a 10-year study of a chimp community in Uganda that provides the first definitive evidence for this long-suspected function of this behavior.

University of Michigan primate behavioral ecologist John Mitani’s findings are published in the June 22 issue of Current Biology.

During a decade of study, the researchers witnessed 18 fatal attacks and found signs of three others perpetrated by members of a large community of about 150 chimps at Ngogo, Kibale National Park.

I guess the banana doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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