The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'monkeys'
Advice of the day: Never slaughter a chicken in front of a monkey; a Chinese villager who nursed a monkey back to health learned this to his detriment:
"From then on, whenever it's not occupied, it jumps into the chicken pen, and kills the chickens, no matter how big or small, and tries to pluck them," said Li. "His record is nine chickens in one day. The lesson I have learned is to never slaughter a chicken in front of a monkey."
An economist at Yale is experimenting with training monkeys to use currency, with some success:
The essential idea was to give a monkey a dollar and see what it did with it. The currency Chen settled on was a silver disc, one inch in diameter, with a hole in the middle -- ''kind of like Chinese money,'' he says. It took several months of rudimentary repetition to teach the monkeys that these tokens were valuable as a means of exchange for a treat and would be similarly valuable the next day. Having gained that understanding, a capuchin would then be presented with 12 tokens on a tray and have to decide how many to surrender for, say, Jell-O cubes versus grapes. This first step allowed each capuchin to reveal its preferences and to grasp the concept of budgeting.
Then Chen introduced price shocks and wealth shocks. If, for instance, the price of Jell-O fell (two cubes instead of one per token), would the capuchin buy more Jell-O and fewer grapes? The capuchins responded rationally to tests like this -- that is, they responded the way most readers of The Times would respond. In economist-speak, the capuchins adhered to the rules of utility maximization and price theory: when the price of something falls, people tend to buy more of it.The experiments have not only shown that monkeys grasp the idea of money and basic economic principles (whilst succumbing to the same probabilistic fallacies people do), but have also demonstrated the emergence of behaviours including stealing and prostitution, entirely unprompted:
During the chaos in the monkey cage, Chen saw something out of the corner of his eye that he would later try to play down but in his heart of hearts he knew to be true. What he witnessed was probably the first observed exchange of money for sex in the history of monkeykind. (Further proof that the monkeys truly understood money: the monkey who was paid for sex immediately traded the token in for a grape.)
The blind have seeing-eye dogs, and soon, the quadriplegic and similarly impaired may be assisted by helping hand monkeys:
Monkeys learn how to help people with simple everyday activities such as opening and setting up a drink of water, providing food, picking up a dropped or out-of-reach object, or turning the pages of a book. Monkeys use their small, dexterous hands to do many kinds of specialized tasks.
A laser pointer directed by mouth control enables a quadriplegic or movement-impaired person to communicate his or her specific needs.The Helping Hands programme is currently running on a small scale in Boston, though if it takes off, perhaps we will see monkeys helping the disabled everywhere.
(via Boing Boing)
On the internet, you can buy anything: even dangerous and/or endangered animals, no questions asked:
Gorillas are among the most highly-endangered species on the planet and all commercial trade in them is prohibited under the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). They are potentially lethal and need expert care and treatment, yet IFAW found a British-based website selling a seven-year-old gorilla in January this year "due to relocation of its owner."
Other, American-based websites sell monkeys along with "cute" accessories such as nappies, feeding bottles, clothes and toys, adding to the impression that these are a slightly more lively version of a doll. Traders in live primates call themselves "Monkey Moms" and the animals "monkids".
Threatened by poaching and loss of habitat, there are only about 5,000 tigers living in the wild; but thanks to the thriving trade in exotic pets, some 10,000 tigers live in captivity in the US. One US website advertised two-week old male and female tiger cubs for just $1,500 each.
Science has found that monkeys are willing to pay for monkey porn; i.e., male rhesus macaques in possession of stocks of juice will trade juice for views of female monkeys' bottoms. This emerged from a study on how much monkeys would pay to see (G-rated) pictures of monkeys of various ranks (the answer: less than for porn for high-rating monkeys, though you'd have to actually pay them to look at low-ranking loser monkeys).
Now, an interesting question would be, would it be possible to put monkeys to work (useful or experimental, as long as it's something they wouldn't normally do without reward) and pay them in a currency that's useless in and of itself but useful only for buying things (juice or monkey pr0n).
Natasha, a 5-year-old black macaque monkey at a zoo near Tel Aviv, recently suffered a near-fatal bout of stomach flu. She, however, made a full recovery, with one change: she now walks exclusively on her hind legs, much as humans do. Veterinarians are unsure of why this is so, but one possible explanation is brain damage caused by the flu.
Japanese scientists pair up monkey and robot designed to mimic attractive female monkey; social awkwardness ensues.
But the 10-year-old-male monkey, named Choromatsu, paid little attention Saturday to the swooning robot, whose flashy metallic eyelashes and bulging synthetic eyeballs failed to charm.
Choromatsu sat with a scowl through most of the session, often staring at the ceiling or looking at researchers and photographers
Sounds like a fairly typical blind date. Except for the bit about the researchers and photographers, that is. (via jwz)
Research has shown that six-month-olds are better at recognising individual monkeys than adults. Proof that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, and that children are more like monkeys than adults, or just that specialisation for human face recognition develops later?
While Parisian police have cracked down on pitbulls, youth gangs have turned to attack-trained monkeys, mostly smuggled from North Africa. The authorities are beset by complaints of monkey violence, the zoo won't take the sociopathic primates, and the animal shelters are full.