Site update

Since I have been really terrible at updating the blog (but pretty good at keeping up with the facebook blog posts) I've added the widget below so that facebook cross posts to the blog.

You shouldn't need to join facebook but can just click on the links in the widget to access the articles. If you have any problems or comments please mail me at arandjel 'AT'

Friday, April 27, 2007

Gorillas' Hidden History Revealed

A Science article about Olaf Thalmann & Linda Vigilant's work on gorilla population genetics presented at the 2007 AAPAs.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Very Important Scientist of the Month - Kevin Langergraber

Original Paper in PNAS can be found here


Chimp cooperation goes beyond family

Nepotism is known to be important in chimpanzee society, but male chimps' ability to cooperate extends beyond family connections, new research reveals.

This extra level of sophistication is yet another way in which the social behaviour of chimps parallels that of humans.

Kevin Langergraber, an anthropologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, US, and colleagues recorded alliances, meat-sharing and other cooperative behaviour among 41 male chimps in Kibale National Park, Uganda.

The team also genotyped each animal to measure how closely they were related. Over a period of seven years, and over 5000 hours of observations, they observed 753 aggressive coalitions - where they cooperated to fight enemies – and 421 instances of meat sharing.
Selfish reasons

Chimps who shared a mother were far more likely to cooperate with each other. In contrast, there was no evidence that the same applied to chimps with a shared father. This is probably because fathers do not stay with their offspring, so a chimp has no easy way to recognise his paternal brothers.

However, since maternal brothers were rare in this population, most of the cooperating pairs were unrelated or only distantly related.

Extensive cooperation among non-relatives suggests that chimps do it for selfish reasons, with the expectation that favours will be reciprocated, says Langergraber. Human societies use cooperation with similar motives – another behaviour shared with our primate cousins.

Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0611449104)

More pop science articles about Kevin's work:
* National geographic's report
* The Why Files article
* New Scientist article in Italian
* Russian article

Monday, April 16, 2007

Gaps in the Mind

Gaps in the Mind pdf version from

I am reading a really great book called A Devil's Chaplain by Richard Dawkins. The above links to one of its chapters titled "Gaps in the Mind' and I think its a great read about great apes and their relationships to us. I don't agree with everything Dawkins has to say in the book, but its all very thought provoking and well argued.

(in case that doesnt work the work can also be found here:
Gaps in the Mind html version from World Of Dawkins)