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Laurie Santos: A monkey economy as irrational as ours

Laurie Santos: A monkey economy as irrational as ours
Related:  animals are not cute; but their behaviour is fun science

Stephen Hawking: "Humans Have Entered a New Stage of Evolution" Although It has taken homo sapiens several million years to evolve from the apes, the useful information in our DNA, has probably changed by only a few million bits. So the rate of biological evolution in humans, Stephen Hawking points out in his Life in the Universe lecture, is about a bit a year. "By contrast," Hawking says, "there are about 50,000 new books published in the English language each year, containing of the order of a hundred billion bits of information. Of course, the great majority of this information is garbage, and no use to any form of life. But, even so, the rate at which useful information can be added is millions, if not billions, higher than with DNA." This means Hawking says that we have entered a new phase of evolution. But what distinguishes us from our cave man ancestors is the knowledge that we have accumulated over the last ten thousand years, and particularly, Hawking points out, over the last three hundred. Casey Kazan Related Galaxy posts: Immense Journey

Scientists create chill-out music for monkeys | Science Music inspired by the soothing calls of contented monkeys relaxes the animals when it is played back to them, researchers have discovered. Researchers composed "monkey melodies" to investigate whether non-human primates are capable of responding to music with the same emotions as people. They found that while monkeys were left cold by human music, they reacted emotionally to tunes that incorporated features commonly heard in monkey calls, such as rising and falling tones. Tamarin monkeys lounged around and ate more when they heard music inspired by the calming sounds the animals make when they are safe, the study found. Music based on more fearful monkey calls made the animals agitated and anxious when it was played in their enclosure. The study, published today in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, will help psychologists understand the evolutionary roots of music and its effect on the brain, the authors said. They then heard the specially composed monkey music.

Economics 7 TED talks on monkeys, and 7 on mind control Science Play with the brain: An online game that’s helping map the connections of the retina Sebastian Seung is one of the most influential explorers of our time — and his terrain is the human brain. You may remember Seung’s talk from TEDGlobal 2010, in which he uses the relatively new term “connectome,” to describe the connections between each of the hundreds of millions of neurons in our brains that make […] Playlist 12 talks on understanding the brain Read Montague is interested in the human dopamine system — or, as he puts it in this illuminating talk from TEDGlobal 2012, that which makes us “chase sex, food and salt” and therefore survive.

Evolution in Action: Lizard Moving From Eggs to Live Birth Evolution has been caught in the act, according to scientists who are decoding how a species of Australian lizard is abandoning egg-laying in favor of live birth. Along the warm coastal lowlands of New South Wales (map), the yellow-bellied three-toed skink lays eggs to reproduce. But individuals of the same species living in the state's higher, colder mountains are almost all giving birth to live young. Only two other modern reptiles—another skink species and a European lizard—use both types of reproduction. (Related: "Virgin Birth Expected at Christmas—By Komodo Dragon.") Evolutionary records shows that nearly a hundred reptile lineages have independently made the transition from egg-laying to live birth in the past, and today about 20 percent of all living snakes and lizards give birth to live young only. Eggs-to-Baby Switch Creates Nutrient Problem One of the mysteries of how reptiles switch from eggs to live babies is how the young get their nourishment before birth.

Octopus tool use | Science There was a time, not so long ago, when humans decided that the characteristic that "separated us from the animals" was the human ability to use tools. But clever birds and other animals quickly called that notion into question. Here is a video of yet another clever animal, this one lacking a spine, that also indulges in sophisticated tool use: a veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus: These Indonesian octopus scavenge the seafloor for coconut shells discarded by humans. When they find them, they adopt them as homes to protect their soft bodies from predators. Octopus even will use two similarly-sized shells to wrap around their bodies as protection. Here's a little more about these remarkable animals: Footage shot by Dr Julian Finn of Museum Victoria. Finn, J.K., T.

TED Economics Fiches pratiques > 42 - PRIMATOLOGUE - Waterfox Le champ d’action de cet éthologue spécialisé : l’étude scientifique du comportement des primates, cet ordre des mammifères qui comprend les gorilles, les orangs-outans, les chimpanzés mais aussi les petits singes et les lémuriens… Ils ne sont qu’une petite dizaine en France à travailler en tant que primatologue. Bernard Thierry est l’un d’entre eux. Le groupe de singes qu’il étudie, des macaques de Tonkean, évolue en semi-liberté dans un parc d’un demi-hectare, à quelques encablures de son bureau du CNRS à Strasbourg. « Tous les chercheurs ne vivent pas au fin fond d’une forêt ! La primatologie, discipline associée à l’éthologie, vise à analyser le comportement des primates mais aussi leur société et leurs facultés mentales. « Regarder les animaux fait partie de notre mission, mais pas seulement ! Le profil idéal pour devenir primatologue ? Qu’est ce qu’un primate ? Etudes : bac + 8 ans minimum Salaires : de 1 500 € à 4 000 € Débouchés : très restreints. Formation

Australopithecus afarensis | Smithsonian Human Origins Program Australopithecus afarensis Nickname: Lucy's species Where Lived: Eastern Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania) When Lived: Between about 3.85 and 2.95 million years ago Australopithecus afarensis is one of the longest-lived and best-known early human species—paleoanthropologists have uncovered remains from more than 300 individuals! Similar to chimpanzees, Au. afarensis children grew rapidly after birth and reached adulthood earlier than modern humans. Au. afarensis had both ape and human characteristics: members of this species had apelike face proportions (a flat nose, a strongly projecting lower jaw) and braincase (with a small brain, usually less than 500 cubic centimeters -- about 1/3 the size of a modern human brain), and long, strong arms with curved fingers adapted for climbing trees. Year of Discovery: 1974 History of Discovery: The species was formally named in 1978 following a wave of fossil discoveries at Hadar, Ethiopia, and Laetoli, Tanzania. First paper: Schmid, P., 2004.

Elephants give each other a helping trunk | Not Exactly Rocket Science In Lampang, Thailand, two elephants have a problem. They’ve walked into adjacent paddocks separated by a fence. In front of them is a sliding table with two food bowls, but it’s out of reach and the way is barred by a stiff net. A rope has been looped around the table and one end snakes into each of the paddocks. And the elephants know it. There are, of course, many reasons to think that elephants are highly intelligent. But very few people have ever tested their intelligence in experiments, in the ways that primates, crows and dolphins have. At the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, Plotnik saw a way around these problems. When the mahouts released the elephant pairs at the same time, they eventually pulled the rope together. In a final experiment, Plotnik coiled one of the rope ends at the base of the table, so only one of the elephants could reach their end. Capuchin monkeys, hyenas and rooks (a type of crow) have all managed to learn to pull on the rope with a partner.

"Lucy" Kin Pushes Back Evolution of Upright Walking? Lucy—a 3.2-million-year-old skeleton discovered in 1974—belongs to , a species which scientists think was an early direct ancestor of modern humans. An exceptionally petite female—her estimated height was 3.5 feet (1.1 meters)—Lucy's small frame has been interpreted as not being totally adapted for human-like, upright walking. (See: "6-Million-Year-Old Human Ancestor 1st to Walk Upright?" ) But the discovery of the 3.6-million-year-old male disproves that idea, said study co-author Yohannes Haile-Selassie , curator of physical anthropology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. "As a result of this discovery, we can now confidently say that 'Lucy' and her relatives were almost as proficient as we are walking on two legs, and that the elongation of our legs came earlier in our evolution than previously thought," Haile-Selassie said in a statement. {*style:<b>"Big Man" <i> A. </b>*} {*style:<b>Newfound Skeleton a Better Walker

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