Despite slang terms that imply otherwise, the human penis contains no bones. The same cannot be said for many of our closest evolutionary relatives: Chimpanzees and bonobos both have penis bones (a macaque one is pictured, left), also known as bacula.
To find out why some primates have the feature whereas others don’t, researchers traced the bone’s evolutionary history through time. The baculum first evolved between 145 million and 95 million years ago, as reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. That means it was present in the most recent common ancestor of all primates and carnivores. Why some descendants, like humans, lost their bacula appears to be due to differences in mating practices: In primates, the presence of a penis[ ... ]
Bullying is not easy to define, namely because there is no one way to bully. It comes in many forms, from physical playground scuffles to verbal attacks. Even governments have a hard time defining it, often referred to as a repeated behaviour with the intent to hurt someone either physically or emotionally. By this definitions, there are many ape and monkey bullies, too. In fact, any hierarchical society is likely to have bullies in its midst.
An unfortunate monkey at the bottom of the hierarchy is repeatedly attacked and picked upon by those higher up in the group - they are sometimes beaten up every day. Bullying amongst rhesus macaques, for example, seems to release tensions among the higher-ups. Bullying seems to reinforce their bonds, a [ ... ]
In December 2013, four captive chimpanzees in the state of New York became the first nonhuman primates in history to sue their human captors in an attempt to gain their freedom. The chimps' lawyers, members of a recently formed organization known as the Nonhuman Rights Project, were asking a judge to grant their clients the basic right to not be imprisoned illegally. The judges of the New York lawsuits ultimately dismissed them all on the grounds that the plaintiffs aren't people. The appeals are ongoing. [ ... ]
Unlike most mammals, mature male orangutans exhibit different facial characteristics: some develop large 'cheek pads' on their faces (as shown above); other males do not. A team of researchers studied the difference in reproductive success between cheek-padded males and males without cheek pads. They found that those with cheek pads are significantly more successful in fathering offspring.
A study published by the Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Studies presents some of the first evidence showing the beneficial effects of opposite-sex friendships in the animal kingdom. According to the study, females that socialized with other females the most were 34 percent less likely to die in a given period than those who rarely interacted with other females, whereas socializing a lot with males lessened the chances of dying by 45 percent.
Zookeepers at Central Park Zoo in the US assumed their cotton-top tamarins were falling silent every time someone entered their enclosure, but spectrograms, which provide visual representations of sound, revealed what was really going on. These little monkeys were actually whispering their alarm calls instead of shouting them, which is the first evidence of whispering in a non-human primate species.
This is Washoe, the first non-human to use sign language. When her caretaker Kat suffered a miscarriage, and Washoe was told that her baby had died, she signed "CRY", drawing a path down her cheek with her finger to mimic a tear. Chimpanzees don't shed tears, and Kat said this one sign told her more about Washoe's mental capabilities than all of her longer, grammatically perfect sentences.
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