The monkey wars are here

I’ve been tracking the oncoming monkey war with some interest for quite a while. The gorillas learned to disengage poachers’ traps and the monkeys fought pitched battles against each other to test out different tactics. Back in May, monkeys were biting humans in isolated attacks and the Times was on it.

Well, the skirmishes are over and we are at war as evidenced by recent monkey military operations in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. In the Saudi village of Kiad, baboons are foraging among the village for scarce water and food as the area experiences a drought.

Adel Medini, from the town of Helli, has his own take on the recent scourge of baboons: “It’s a daily game of hide and seek. The baboons are targeting empty houses and are well aware of what they are doing. The assault on the village is not random, as some believe. They proceed according to studied plans. That’s why their attacks do not fail. For example, imagine a resident who is absent from their home for a period of time. Even though it’s just one day, he is surprised to return to find his home in disarray. Some people in this situation thought that thieves had broken into and ransacked their houses … The problem is that the village’s houses are old and non-roofed, and our daily guest is hungry.”

In South Sulawesi province in Indonesia, a group of 10 wild monkeys are terrorizing the town.

The spokesman said the animals were thought to have come from a nearby forest protected by a local tribe. Local authorities are investigating why the monkeys, which are usually afraid of humans and flee when they hear human voices, emerged and attacked.

The monkey wars are here

Monkey brain keeps track of kindness

Monkeys keep count of niceties and selfless behavior in a part of their brain.

When given the option either to drink juice from a tube themselves or to give the juice away to a neighbour, the test monkeys would mostly keep the drink. But when the choice was between giving the juice to the neighbour or neither monkey receiving it, the choosing monkey would frequently opt to give the drink to the other monkey.

The researchers found that in two out of the three brain areas being recorded, neurons fired in the presence or absence of the juice reward only. By contrast, the third area — known as the anterior cingulate gyrus — responded only when the monkey allocated the juice to the neighbour and observed it being received. The authors suggest the neurons in the ACG respond to and record the act simultaneously. The study’s results are published today in Nature Neuroscience.

Via Chris

Monkey brain keeps track of kindness

Photo of the year

The 2010 photo retrospectives have begun, but for my money, the photo of the year is this picture of a monkey saving a puppy from a gas pipeline explosion in Nanjing, China.

monkeycarryingdog

We can all agree on this one, right?

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Update: Just found out the picture isn’t from this year. It might be a monkey saving a puppy, but it’s from 2006. I don’t care. It should be the picture of EVERY year.

Photo of the year