My favorite part abt Frans de Waal are the bonobo pansexual jokes and puns
Researchers at Princeton and Duke report that ring-tailed lemurs respond more strongly to the scents and sounds of female lemurs when the scent they smell and the voice they hear belong to the same female — even when she’s nowhere in sight.
The researchers say that lemurs are able to learn a particular female’s call along with her unique aroma and link them together into a single picture of that individual.
The study appears online April 16 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B…
In a series of experiments, researchers presented pairwise combinations of calls and scents from familiar females to 15 ring-tailed lemurs in outdoor enclosures at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina.
When a lemur entered the enclosure, the researchers played a call from a familiar female over a hidden loudspeaker, and then presented the animal with scent secretions from either the same female, or a different female from the same social group.
The hidden speaker was positioned between two wooden rods — one swabbed with a female’s scent and the other ‘unscented’ — so that the sounds and the scents came from the same location.
In general, the lemurs paid more attention to the sounds and smells in the matched trials in which the call they heard and the scent they smelled came from the same female, than in the mismatched trials when they heard one female and smelled another.
Both males and females spent more time sniffing and/or marking the scented rods in the matched trials than in the mismatched trials. Males also spent more time looking in the direction of a female’s call when her scent was present instead of another female’s scent.
The results held up whether the sounds and odors came from a dominant female or a subordinate one.
The ability to tell if the voice they hear corresponds to the scent they smell may help a lemur figure out if the animal producing the scent is still nearby, said Princeton graduate student and coauthor Ipek Kulahci. (full article)
Kulahci, I.G., et al. Individual recognition through olfactory - auditory matching in lemurs. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B, 2014 (x)
Skull of the Magdalenian Woman, cranium of the most complete Upper Paleolithic skeleton in North America, dating between 17,000-12,000 BP. She was discovered in 1911 in the mouth of the Cap-Blanc cave in France when an excavation crew accidentally struck her head with a pick axe. She was reconstructed from the broken pieces in the 1930s but was left looking more ape- than human-like. Today we are taking her to be CT scanned on a microscopic level in order to rebuild the skull in software, which will eventually be 3D printed, in order to have a more physiologically accurate model without risking damage to the original. TECHNOLOGY (at The Field Museum)
Humans and other primates aren’t the only members of the animal kingdom who can watch total strangers interact and figure out who’s in charge. Ravens can do it too, according to a new study in the journal Nature Communications.
Researchers at the University of Vienna said they had several reasons to suspect that ravens had the chops to understand the social hierarchy of unknown birds just by looking at them. For starters, ravens “are renowned for their relatively big brains,” they wrote.
Among other things, these noggins allow them to switch between foraging in groups and looking out for themselves. Their big brains also seem to help them keep track of social relationships that have nothing to do with reproduction (usually an aminal’s top priority). Some ravens have even been known to console their buddies after losing a fight.
So the researchers selected 16 captive members of the Corvus corax species and rotated them through an aviary to give them a chance to see and hear other birds, though they remained physically separated. Then the researchers played audio of other birds from hidden loudspeakers.
Some of these “vocal interactions” reflected the actual social hierarchy of the group. Other audio clips had the dominance and submissive calls scrambled, to mimic a reversal in rank.
When the male ravens heard the clips that didn’t match their expectations, they seemed to withdraw (perhaps to give themselves a chance to figure out what was going on). The birds “reduced their vocalizations” and “tended to reduce their behaviors indicative of showing attention,” the researchers found. The female ravens, in contrast, didn’t seem too concerned about the scrambled recordings.
The story was different when the researchers played audio clips of ravens in the test subjects’ own social groups. In these cases, clips that didn’t match the birds’ expectations caused them to stress them out, especially the female birds, the researchers found. This may be because female ravens try to boost their own rank by bonding with males, according to the study. But the clips that reinforced their (accurate) ideas about the social hierarchy of their feathered friends were taken in stride.
“This is, to our knowledge, the first experimental demonstration that non-human animals may recognize the rank relations of out-group members,” the researchers wrote. “This corresponds to the observations that ravens are excellent in monitoring, and actively intervening, in status-related interactions of other ravens.”
Prehistoric Aboriginal hand stencil rock art. These photos were taken at the Mutawintji National Park, in the NSW Australian outback. The hands shown in the third photo are thought to have been those of a child.
Courtesy of Beppie K.
If you are seeing this post then this is undeniable. Get ahead of finals and start working and studying!
As the school year winds to a close, another class of students nears graduation and will be asked the inevitable question: “So, what’s next?”
I wrote a piece over at the PLOS Student Blog about my experience looking for non-academic jobs. If you’re a PhD student or postdoc curious about your career options, go check it out!
University of Alaska Assistant Professor Ryan Harrod is a bioarchaeologist, a specialty within the field of physical anthropology. His work includes a lot of forensic anthropology.
Like the fictional character Dr. Temperance Brennan from the TV drama “Bones,” he’s sometimes called upon to closely study a skeleton to determine what happened to a person who died, or how they had lived. Unlike the TV character, Harrod is generally dealing with much older remains. But the work — analyzing trauma and coming up with a profile of the deceased and how they died — is largely the same.