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Lameira A.R.,University Utrecht | Hardus M.E.,University of Amsterdam | Kowalsky B.,Heidelberg Zoo | De Vries H.,University Utrecht | And 6 more authors.
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America | Year: 2013

One of the most apparent discontinuities between non-human primate (primate) call communication and human speech concerns repertoire size. The former is essentially fixed to a limited number of innate calls, while the latter essentially consists of numerous learned components. Consequently, primates are thought to lack laryngeal control required to produce learned voiced calls. However, whether they may produce learned voiceless calls awaits investigation. Here, a case of voiceless call learning in primates is investigated - orangutan (Pongo spp.) whistling. In this study, all known whistling orangutans are inventoried, whistling-matching tests (previously conducted with one individual) are replicated with another individual using original test paradigms, and articulatory and acoustic whistle characteristics are compared between three orangutans. Results show that whistling has been reported for ten captive orangutans. The test orangutan correctly matched human whistles with significantly high levels of performance. Whistle variation between individuals indicated voluntary control over the upper lip, lower lip, and respiratory musculature, allowing individuals to produce learned voiceless calls. Results are consistent with inter- and intra-specific social transmission in whistling orangutans. Voiceless call learning in orangutans implies that some important components of human speech learning and control were in place before the homininae-ponginae evolutionary split. © 2013 Acoustical Society of America.


Hogan J.N.,University of California at Davis | Miller W.A.,University of California at Davis | Cranfield M.R.,University of California at Davis | Ramer J.,Indianapolis Zoo | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2014

Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) are critically endangered primates surviving in two isolated populations in protected areas within the Virunga Massif of Rwanda, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. Mountain gorillas face intense ecologic pressures due to their proximity to humans. Human communities outside the national parks, and numerous human activities within the national parks (including research, tourism, illegal hunting, and anti-poaching patrols), lead to a high degree of contact between mountain gorillas and wildlife, domestic animals, and humans. To assess the pathogen transmission potential between wildlife and livestock, feces of mountain gorillas, forest buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus), and domestic cattle (Bos taurus) in Rwanda were examined for the parasites Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Giardia was found in 9% of mountain gorillas, 6% of cattle, and 2% of forest buffalo. Our study represents the first report of Giardia prevalence in forest buffalo. Cryptosporidium-like particles were also observed in all three species. Molecular characterization of Giardia isolates identified zoonotic genotype assemblage B in the gorilla samples and assemblage E in the cattle samples. Significant spatial clustering of Giardiapositive samples was observed in one sector of the park. Although we did not find evidence for transmission of protozoa from forest buffalo to mountain gorillas, the genotypes of Giardia samples isolated from gorillas have been reported in humans, suggesting that the importance of humans in this ecosystem should be more closely evaluated. © Wildlife Disease Association 2014.


Cuozzo F.P.,University of North Dakota | Sauther M.L.,University of Colorado at Boulder | Gould L.,University of Victoria | Sussman R.W.,Washington University in St. Louis | And 2 more authors.
American Journal of Primatology | Year: 2010

Tooth wear is generally an age-related phenomenon, often assumed to occur at similar rates within populations of primates and other mammals, and has been suggested as a correlate of reduced offspring survival among wild lemurs. Few long-term wild studies have combined detailed study of primate behavior and ecology with dental analyses. Here, we present data on dental wear and tooth loss in older (410 years old) wild and captive ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta). Among older ring-tailed lemurs at the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve (BMSR), Madagascar (n56), the percentage of severe dental wear and tooth loss ranges from 6 to 50%. Among these six individuals, the oldest (19 years old) exhibits the second lowest frequency of tooth loss (14%). The majority of captive lemurs at the Indianapolis Zoo (n57) are older than the oldest BMSR lemur, yet display significantly less overall tooth wear for 19 of 36 tooth positions, with only two individuals exhibiting antemortem tooth loss. Among the captive lemurs, only one lemur (a nearly 29 year old male) has lost more than one tooth. This individual is only missing anterior teeth, in contrast to lemurs at BMSR, where the majority of lost teeth are postcanine teeth associated with processing specific fallback foods. Postcanine teeth also show significantly more overall wear at BMSR than in the captive sample. At BMSR, degree of severe wear and tooth loss varies in same aged, older individuals, likely reflecting differences in microhabitat, and thus the availability and use of different foods. This pattern becomes apparent before "old age," as seen in individuals as young as 7 years. Among the four "older" female lemurs at BMSR, severe wear and/or tooth loss do not predict offspring survival. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


News Article | July 27, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

An orangutan has displayed the ability to make vowel-like calls, mimicking the tone and pitch of sounds made by researchers — a development that could provide insight into the origins of human language. In the scientific community, it has been an established fact that speech is a learned behavior — one that evolved through the mastery of our own vocal cords. As such, since apes hadn't demonstrated the ability to learn new vocalizations, scientists concluded that spoken language evolved after we split from the apes. Now, thanks to Rocky, an 11-year-old orangutan from the Indianapolis Zoo, scientists have a lot to reconsider. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, details how researchers attempted to teach him new sounds without disrupting his environment or schedule by engaging him in copycat games, where he was challenged to mimic new vocalizations that varied greatly in tone and pitch in order earn snacks. Much to their surprise, Rocky was able to move his vocalizations up and down in pitch and tone to match researchers, as well as make calls that resembled both consonants and vowels. This wasn't a fluke, either, as the scientists compared Rocky's exclamations against a database of more than 12,000 hours of various orangutan calls and found that none of them matched, meaning they were entirely new. The results were clear: apes are able to achieve levels of voice control that is comparable to those in humans. "Instead of learning new sounds, it has been presumed that sounds made by great apes are driven by arousal over which they have no control, but our research proves that orangutans have the potential capacity to control the action of their voices," Adriano Lameira, an anthropologist at Durham University, said in a news release. "This indicates that the voice control shown by humans could derive from an evolutionary ancestor with similar voice control capacities as those found in orangutans and in all great apes more generally." Rocky's performance in the game suggests that voice control isn't limited to specific species and is likely indicative of broader capabilities among all orangutans — and potentially all great apes. Until now, it had been assumed that their cognitive abilities far outstripped their vocal ones, but these results suggest both abilities are equally sophisticated. "[This opens] up the potential for us to learn more about the vocal capacities of early hominids that lived before the split between the orangutan and human lineages to see how the vocal system evolved towards full-blown speech in humans," Lameira concluded. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


Lameira A.R.,University of Amsterdam | Lameira A.R.,Pongo Foundation | Hardus M.E.,University of Amsterdam | Hardus M.E.,Pongo Foundation | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

The evolutionary origins of speech remain obscure. Recently, it was proposed that speech derived from monkey facial signals which exhibit a speech-like rhythm of ∼5 open-close lip cycles per second. In monkeys, these signals may also be vocalized, offering a plausible evolutionary stepping stone towards speech. Three essential predictions remain, however, to be tested to assess this hypothesis' validity; (i) Great apes, our closest relatives, should likewise produce 5Hz-rhythm signals, (ii) speech-like rhythm should involve calls articulatorily similar to consonants and vowels given that speech rhythm is the direct product of stringing together these two basic elements, and (iii) speech-like rhythm should be experience-based. Via cinematic analyses we demonstrate that an ex-entertainment orangutan produces two calls at a speech-like rhythm, coined "clicks" and "faux-speech." Like voiceless consonants, clicks required no vocal fold action, but did involve independent manoeuvring over lips and tongue. In parallel to vowels, faux-speech showed harmonic and formant modulations, implying vocal fold and supralaryngeal action. This rhythm was several times faster than orangutan chewing rates, as observed in monkeys and humans. Critically, this rhythm was seven-fold faster, and contextually distinct, than any other known rhythmic calls described to date in the largest database of the orangutan repertoire ever assembled. The first two predictions advanced by this study are validated and, based on parsimony and exclusion of potential alternative explanations, initial support is given to the third prediction. Irrespectively of the putative origins of these calls and underlying mechanisms, our findings demonstrate irrevocably that great apes are not respiratorily, articulatorilly, or neurologically constrained for the production of consonant- and vowel-like calls at speech rhythm. Orangutan clicks and faux-speech confirm the importance of rhythmic speech antecedents within the primate lineage, and highlight potential articulatory homologies between great ape calls and human consonants and vowels. © 2015 Lameira et al.


Pontzer H.,Washington University in St. Louis | Raichlen D.A.,University of Arizona | Shumaker R.W.,Indianapolis Zoo | Shumaker R.W.,George Mason University | And 3 more authors.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2010

Energy is the fundamental currency of life - needed for growth, repair, and reproduction - but little is known about the metabolic physiology and evolved energy use strategies of the great apes, our closest evolutionary relatives. Here we report daily energy use in free-living orangutans (Pongo spp.) and test whether observed differences in energy expenditure among orangutans, humans, and other mammals reflect known differences in life history. Using the doubly labeled water method, we measured daily energy expenditure (kCal/d) in orangutans living in a large indoor/outdoor habitat at the Great Ape Trust. Despite activity levels similar to orangutans in the wild, Great Ape Trust orangutans used less energy, relative to body mass, than nearly any eutherian mammal ever measured, including sedentary humans. Such an extremely low rate of energy use has not been observed previously in primates, but is consistent with the slow growth and low rate of reproduction in orangutans, and may be an evolutionary response to severe food shortages in their native Southeast Asian rainforests. These results hold important implications for the management of orangutan populations in captivity and in the wild, and underscore the flexibility and interdependence of physiological, behavioral, and life history strategies in the evolution of apes and humans.


PubMed | University of Wisconsin - Madison, University of Lausanne, Kwame Nkrumah University Of Science And Technology, Indianapolis Zoo and 9 more.
Type: Comparative Study | Journal: Nature | Year: 2016

Humans are distinguished from the other living apes in having larger brains and an unusual life history that combines high reproductive output with slow childhood growth and exceptional longevity. This suite of derived traits suggests major changes in energy expenditure and allocation in the human lineage, but direct measures of human and ape metabolism are needed to compare evolved energy strategies among hominoids. Here we used doubly labelled water measurements of total energy expenditure (TEE; kcal day(-1)) in humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans to test the hypothesis that the human lineage has experienced an acceleration in metabolic rate, providing energy for larger brains and faster reproduction without sacrificing maintenance and longevity. In multivariate regressions including body size and physical activity, human TEE exceeded that of chimpanzees and bonobos, gorillas and orangutans by approximately 400, 635 and 820kcal day(-1), respectively, readily accommodating the cost of humans greater brain size and reproductive output. Much of the increase in TEE is attributable to humans greater basal metabolic rate (kcal day(-1)), indicating increased organ metabolic activity. Humans also had the greatest body fat percentage. An increased metabolic rate, along with changes in energy allocation, was crucial in the evolution of human brain size and life history.


PubMed | Smithsonian Institution, Dolphin Quest Hawaii, Quest Global Management Dolphin Quest, Sea World of California and 3 more.
Type: | Journal: General and comparative endocrinology | Year: 2014

This study evaluated circulating concentrations of thyroid hormones in relation to age, sex, pregnancy status, and perinatal loss in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) under human care. A total of 373 blood samples were collected from 60 individual dolphins housed at nine aquariums/oceanariums. Serum concentrations of total and free thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) were analyzed with commercial RIA kits validated for use with dolphins. While the effect of age was indicated by higher (P<0.0001) concentrations of total and free T4 and T3 in juveniles than adults, the effect of sex on thyroid hormones was inconclusive. The effect of pregnancy was indicated by higher (P<0.035) total and free T4 and T3 during early pregnancy compared to non-pregnancy. For both successful and unsuccessful pregnancy outcomes, maternal concentrations of thyroid hormones were highest during early, intermediate during mid, and lowest during late pregnancy (P<0.07 to P<0.0001). Compared to live and thriving births, concentrations of total and free T4 and total T3 were lower (P<0.08 to P<0.001) in dolphins with perinatal loss. Lower concentrations ranged from 10% to 14% during early, 11% to 18% during mid, and 23% to 37% during late pregnancy. In conclusion, the effects of age, reproductive status and stage of pregnancy on thyroid hormone concentrations are necessary factors to take into account when assessing thyroid gland function. Since perinatal loss may be associated with hypothyroidism in dolphins, analysis of serum T4 and T3 should be considered for those dolphins that have a history of pregnancy loss.


Waldoch J.A.,Indianapolis Zoo | Burke S.S.,Texas A&M University | Ramer J.C.,Indianapolis Zoo | Garner M.M.,Northwest ZooPath
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2010

A female nurse shark, Ginglymostoma cirratum, estimated at 27 yr of age had a 5.5-yr history of a 6-cm black, raised nodular skin lesion located on the right side of the proximal tail. The lesion was diagnosed on biopsy as a slow-growing melanoma of the skin with no vascular invasion. The nurse shark was euthanized for systemic illness approximately 4.5 mo after diagnosis of the dermal melanoma. No evidence of metastasis was found on histopathologic evaluation of the skin and viscera. Copyright 2010 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.


News Article | November 15, 2016
Site: www.csmonitor.com

To a cockatoo craving an out-of-reach snack, it might not matter what material is within reach to make a tool. Scientists have observed one species, the Goffin's cockatoo, making tools from three different materials that worked the same way to accomplish the same task. They published their findings Tuesday in the journal Biology Letters. "It demonstrates a degree of confidence, that the cockatoos know exactly what type of tool they need," Rob Shumaker, executive vice president and zoo director of the Indianapolis Zoo, and author of the book "Animal Tool Behavior," who wasn't part of the study, says in a phone interview with The Christian Science Monitor. And perhaps this suggests the cockatoos are capable of a certain degree of foresight and innovation when it comes to manufacturing tools. "Now it seems plausible that they can imagine which object would allow them to solve a new problem and go on to build it," study co-author Alex Kacelnik, a zoologist at the University of Oxford, said in a press release. Tool-making was once thought to be a uniquely human ability, but evidence has mounted against the tale of "man the toolmaker." Other parrots, crows, and chimpanzees are among the other adept tool-users in the animal kingdom. Goffin's cocktoos have not been seen using tools in the wild in their native Indonesia, nor do they employ similar skills to build nests. But a few individuals in captivity at the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna have begun making a few tools. One bird, named Figaro, spontaneously began breaking long splinters off of the wood of his cage, which he used to pull out-of-reach food morsels to him. Three others have since followed suit. But the researchers weren't sure if that behavior was more one of convenience, as the fibrous nature of wood naturally creates the long, thin splinters perfect for such a foraging task. So they decided to test if the cockatoos would create the same kind of tools from other materials. The scientists presented each bird with a foraging puzzle. A piece of food was placed within a transparent box, just out of reach from a small circular hole. But if the animal could find some way to knock the food off its pedestal, it would fall out of the bottom of the box. The bird was presented with four different materials in separate trials: larch wood like what they had previously used to make tools, leafy beech twigs, a broad piece of cardboard, and a chunk of beeswax. None of the materials were the right shape to fish out the snack when the bird first encountered it. "While none of the birds succeeded in making tools out of beeswax, we found that at least some of them could make suitable tools from the three remaining materials," Alice Auersperg, head of the Goffin Laboratory at the Messerli Research Institute, said in a press release. To make a tool from the wood, a bird would bite at it until they could tear off a long splinter. With the twig, the bird snapped off leaves and side branches until what remained was the right size to fit in the hole to access the snack. The cardboard, with no fibrous structure, was a little trickier. But the successful birds bit along the the edge of the cardboard like a hole punch, Dr. Auersperg explained, outlining an elongated piece of cardboard that they were then able to cut off of the rest of the material. Once the bird had manufactured a long, thin tool from any of the materials, it adeptly stuck it in the box and knocked the snack free. Dr. Shumaker, whose book "Animal Tool Behavior" outlines four different modes of tool-manufacture, says that although the birds use three different materials, this is really a display of just two modes: detach and subtract. With the cardboard and wood, the cockatoos are detaching the tool from the raw material, he explains. But to shape the twig into a tool the birds subtract excess material, the side branches and leaves. Still, Shumaker says, "when they can use two different modes of tool-manufacture for the exactly the same task, that demonstrates a degree of cognitive complexity that would not be there if they were limited to only one mode." And this suggests that the birds "have a very genuine understanding of the task. The cockatoos understand the type of reaching tool that they need." Because the birds are not known to use or manufacture tools in the wild, this ability and innovation suggests the birds are particularly cognitively flexible, Shumaker says. "What this reveals to me is the demands of their natural environment require them to have a level of flexibility in their cognitive skills that is not necessarily present in other species." And they're doing all this with just their beaks, tongues, and claws. "There are only so many things you can do with a beak like that," Shumaker says. "It's a very hard, very powerful part of the body, and it has not nearly the range of abilities that a hand with an opposable thumb has." And yet, he says, the birds are able to accomplish something that requires a lot of finesse.

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