Thursday, 20 November 2008

Females are definitely the chattier sex, even in monkeys!

London, Nov 20 (ANI): Women might be tired of carrying the load of being stereotyped as the talkative sex, but according to a group of researchers, the label might indeed be true at least in the case of female-centric monkey groups.

The research team at Roehampton University in London, who observed a female-centric group of macaques, noticed that the gossipy nature of the monkeys might add weight to the theory that human language evolved to forge social bonds.

A large number of scientists reckon that language replaced grooming as a less time-consuming way of preserving close bonds in ever-growing societies.

Researchers Nathalie Greeno and Stuart Semple hypothesised that if this was true then in species of animals with large social networks, such as macaques, vocal exchanges should be just as important as grooming.

The scientists listened to a group of 16 female and eight male macaques, the most widespread primate genus apart from humans, living on Cayo Santiago island off Puerto Rico for three months.

They counted the grunts, coos and girneys friendly chit-chat between two individuals while ignoring calls specifically used when in the presence of food or a predator.

Female macaques were found to make 13 times as many friendly noises as males. They were also more likely to chat to other females than males.

“The results suggest that females rely on vocal communication more than males due to their need to maintain the larger social networks,” New Scientist quoted Greeno, as saying.

The study has been published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

The scientists believe this is because female macaques form solid, long-lasting bonds. They stay in the same group for life, and rely on their female friends to help them look after offspring.

In contrast males who rove between groups throughout their life chatted to both sexes equally.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Stem Cells from Monkey Teeth Can Stimulate Growth and Generation of Brain Cells

By Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University
Nov 11, 2008 - 11:43:31 AM

Rhesus monkey dental stem cells show the ability to produce different types of cells, illustrating the potential for cell therapy and regenerative medicine.

( - ATLANTA — Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have discovered dental pulp stem cells can stimulate growth and generation of several types of neural cells. Findings from this study, available in the October issue of the journal Stem Cells, suggest dental pulp stem cells show promise for use in cell therapy and regenerative medicine, particularly therapies associated with the central nervous system.

Dental stem cells are adult stem cells, one of the two major divisions of stem cell research. Adult stem cells have the ability to regenerate many different types of cells, promising great therapeutic potential, especially for diseases such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s. Already, dental pulp stem cells have been used for regeneration of dental and craniofacial cells.

Yerkes researcher Anthony Chan, DVM, PhD, and his team of researchers placed dental pulp stem cells from the tooth of a rhesus macaque into the hippocampal areas of mice. The dental pulp stem cells stimulated growth of new neural cells, and many of these formed neurons.

“By showing dental pulp stem cells are capable of stimulating growth of neurons, our study demonstrates the specific therapeutic potential of dental pulp stem cells and the broader potential for adult stem cells,” says Chan, who also is assistant professor of human genetics in Emory School of Medicine.

Because dental pulp stem cells can be isolated from anyone at any age during a visit to the dentist, Chan is interested in the possibility of dental pulp stem cell banking. “Being able to use your own stem cells for therapy would greatly decrease the risk of cell rejection that we now experience in transplant medicine,” says Chan.

Chan and his research team next plan to determine if dental pulp stem cells from monkeys with Huntington’s disease can enhance brain cell development in the same way dental pulp stem cells from healthy monkeys do.

For more than seven decades, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, has been dedicated to conducting essential basic science and translational research to advance scientific understanding and to improve the health and well-being of humans and nonhuman primates. Today, the center, as one of only eight National Institutes of Health–funded national primate research centers, provides leadership, training and resources to foster scientific creativity, collaboration and discoveries. Yerkes-based research is grounded in scientific integrity, expert knowledge, respect for colleagues, an open exchange of ideas and compassionate, quality animal care.

Within the fields of microbiology and immunology, neuroscience, psychobiology and sensory-motor systems, the center’s research programs are seeking ways to: develop vaccines for infectious and noninfectious diseases, such as AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease; treat cocaine addiction; interpret brain activity through imaging; increase understanding of progressive illnesses such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s; unlock the secrets of memory; determine behavioral effects of hormone replacement therapy; address vision disorders; and advance knowledge about the evolutionary links between biology and behavior.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Nepal's Shame

Animal welfare campaigners staged demonstration outside the Nepali Embassy in London on Friday as part of their campaign against Nepal government's involvement in the breeding of rhesus monkeys for biomedical research in America.

Protesters gathered outside the embassy at 10:30 am GMT, with posters showing a suffering lab monkey and the heading “Nepal's Shame”, a statement issued by the Stop Monkey Business Campaign said.
Campaigners display pamphlet during the protest in front of the Nepali Embassy in London, demanding ban on export of rhesus monkey from Nepal on Friday Feb 22.
Campaigners display pamphlet during the protest in front of the Nepali Embassy in London, demanding ban on export of rhesus monkey from Nepal on Friday Feb 22.

The protest was the first in the UK in support of the global Stop Monkey Business Campaign.

Two representatives of the campaigners talked with Jhabindra Aryal, Counselor/Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy, and conveyed their concerns regarding the trade of monkeys for export to American 'research' companies. Aryal on his part promised to pass on the campaigners’ concerns to the Nepal government, the statement added.
“According to the British campaigners, Nepal should be ashamed of providing monkeys for biomedical research, especially in the past the country has built a reputation of protecting wildlife species such as the tiger, rhino and elephant,” the statement read, “They note that monkeys are considered sacred both by Hindus and Buddhists.”

The campaigners have urged the Nepal government to stop the export of monkeys for experimentation, which causes great suffering. They say that exposes of animal ‘research’ companies, including the ones on Washington and San Antonio which have established offices in Nepal, have shown time and time again of the untold suffering and fraudulent research that goes on in the name of science.

“Researchers tend to treat monkeys as disposable tools and consider proper animal care to be too expensive.”

The London demonstration was part of a growing global campaign pressurizing the Nepal government to ban the export of rhesus monkeys for commercial or scientific use. Earlier this month, campaigners protested at the Nepali Consulate in Amsterdam, Holland.

Similar demonstrations will be held in France and other European countries in March.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Make a monkey of the boss and succeed in business

Jan 14 2008 by Emma Johnson, Liverpool Daily Post

THE politics of the office are thought to be a matter peculiar to western culture. For the office politician to be able to deploy his or her Machiavellian tactics and chicanery, it is necessary to have a large corporate setting to manoeuvre among staff and management.

After all, in small organizations, everyone is busy actually doing things to achieve their goals, otherwise matters grind to a halt.

But clich├ęs that the office is a jungle appear to be fact. Big companies are not necessary for office politics to thrive. Behavior patterns of jockeying for preferment are replicated among monkeys and chimps in the wild. Understanding their strategies is as useful as any insight into climbing up the corporate ladder or holding onto your job.

In the US, a study reported by the New Scientist magazine sets out “five rules of the jungle” that we would all be wise to assimilate for our corporate survival.

“The office and the jungle are surprisingly similar,” write the psychologists who undertook the research. It makes sense, really. Both social groups are ruled by stringent hierarchies, but both have to find a balance between the natural drive for competition and simultaneous need for co-operation to ensure the group’s successful continuation.

To this already complicated and often contradictory mix, there is the risk of hostile takeovers, a marketplace of favours and favourites, brazen opportunism. And – let’s not forget it – the long and ignominious tradition of brown-nosing.

What this means in totality, say the scientists, is that “you can’t tell the savanna from a forest of cubicles.”

Monkeying around takes on a more serious meaning with New Scientist summarizing five basic jungle rules that have emerged from the research that are applicable to the office.

We’d all do well to adhere to these guidelines if we want to learn how to cope with aggressive colleagues and over-demanding bosses. In other words, we do much worse than to make a chimp of ourselves.

Apparently monkeys, just like human beings, bridle at being treated unfairly. Trust is everything: it can be quickly established, but is difficult to retrieve if relations break down.

The monkeys even go on strike if they feel they are being let-down or short-changed by those in charge.

The researchers trained the monkeys to trade pebbles for food, which could be a commonplace piece of cucumber, or the much more valued grape. In a communal situation, if the researcher gave one monkey a grape and another a cucumber piece for doing the same task, the one that received the cucumber would down tools and refuse to take any further part in the experiment.

Apart from the blatant unfairness of the work/reward equation, the lesson that carries over to the office situation is that a single person should avoid taking credit for work that is done collectively.

Office relationships collapse when workers hijack their colleagues’ efforts; it is also unwise for individuals to brag about their salaries.

The second monkey rule of office behaviour is not only to have colleagues on your side, but also the boss (which could well be the more important). Other studies already indicate that primates who spend time currying favor with their superiors receive more backing when any arguments or fights occur.

But as important – and one often forgotten by the so-called superior human beings – is the third rule: the need for reconciliation and to avoid bearing a grudge.

Chimps embrace and even kiss after a fight, dolphins rub alongside each other and goats nuzzle. This magnanimity reduces stress and prevents the dispute re-igniting.

Team playing underpins the fourth rule, as chimps and humans prefer the company of co-operative fellows. Show your kind and caring side, even simple activities like making tea and buying buns for the department can repeat multiple benefits.

Finally, the fifth rule is probably the hardest: be a good boss. An acutely difficult act of balancing leadership, control and motivation. The failure of those in charge is also replicated in the wild, with insensitive chimps having to fight constantly to maintain their status, while their group becomes increasingly stressed.

It’s a wonder that any work gets done at all, isn’t it?