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Primate visual systems “totally indistinguishable” after 55 million years

"55 Million years of separation on different continents is a very long evolutionary path to travel. I would have expected some mix of general similarity and characteristic differences between species in these neural modules. But the fact of the matter simply is: It is practically impossible to tell them apart." … It sounds a lot like a designed system. The basic core of the hardware and software hasn’t changed in 55 million years. Read More ›

Primate intelligence test just makes humans more exceptional

A recent finding was that mouse lemurs, with a brain 1/200th the size of that of a chimpanzee, performed approximately as well on a primate cognition test. And then there's human intelligence... Read More ›

Knuckle study might shed light on whether ancient humans walked or swung from trees

They might be onto something. After all, they are looking at a restricted type of evidence that may be abundant enough to enable a reasonable decision about some fossils. A far cry from the hype we so often hear. Read More ›

A gene that sets primates (apes and humans) apart from other mammals

From ScienceDaily: University of Otago researchers have discovered information about a gene that sets primates — great apes and humans — apart from other mammals, through the study of a rare developmental brain disorder. … Dr O’Neill and research collaborators from Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Germany, then set forth to test the point that the gene drives aspects of brain development that are unique to primates. Some amazing data was found using a novel approach through studying human “mini-brains” in culture. It is now possible to take a skin cell and transform it using a set of genetic tricks, so that it can be triggered to form a tiny brain-like structure in culture in the lab. Their results showed Read More ›

Researchers: Primate relationships more complex than thought

According to new research: When it comes to figuring out which individual among a group of primates is the most dominant, some scientists simply look for the one that’s being the most assertive or aggressive. New research suggests this approach grossly underestimates the social complexity of nonhuman primates, and that there’s more to social dominance than being a bully. The social relationships of nonhuman primates, and the ways in which social dominance is achieved, maintained, and perceived, are more complex than scientists have traditionally assumed, according to new research published this week in Scientific Reports. The research also shows that existing techniques for observing and measuring dominance among nonhuman primates, whether they be monkeys or apes, are insufficient and lacking Read More ›

Researchers: Primates vary in speech capability. (But none speak.)

From ScienceDaily: The vocal tract and larynx is similar in form and function amongst virtually all terrestrial mammals, including humans. However, relative to humans, non-human primates produce an extremely limited range of vocalisations. Published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, the new research investigates whether the reason primates are incapable of producing speech is because they lack the brain mechanisms needed to control and coordinate vocal production. … The academics, from Anglia Ruskin University and Stony Brook University, found a positive correlation between the relative size of cortical association areas and the size of the vocal repertoire of primates, which can range from just two call types in pottos to at least 38 different calls made by bonobos. Lead author Read More ›