This Week in Science - April 15 - 21, 2013:

  • CO2 build up here.
  • Colour-changing hare here.
  • Nano-sponges and toxins here.
  • Bioengineered kidney here.
  • Fins to feet here.
  • Interactive exoplanet tally here.
  • Dinosaur egg study here.
  • Infants being carried here.
  • MIT solar cell here.
  • Chimps and communication here.
  • HPV vaccine in Australia here.
  • Depression study here.

Jane Goodall, the primatologist-turned-activist, made revolutionary discoveries about chimpanzees that forever changed our understanding of our closest genetic relatives. Her work redefined our understanding of chimpanzees and, in doing so, upending long-held beliefs about humans and the rest of the animal kingdom—while catapulting her to international fame. She is arguably the most famous female scientist in history, revered as much for her work as for inspiring generations of girls and women.

See more pictures and get the story at

Very happy about the news this week for chimps in US labs. It was a big week-please visit this tribute to the last 1000 chimps in medical labs in he USA.

For almost 100 years, chimpanzees have been used in biomedical and behavioral research in this country, the last industrialized country to experiment on our next of kin. The end of using chimpanzees as nameless test subjects is near. Already hundreds of research chimpanzees have been retired. In tribute to all who have been forced to serve, here we look forward to the journey to sanctuary of the LAST 1000.

so, if a chimp slips on a banana peel…

Apes Enjoy Slapstick Humor

Apes appear to have a crude sense of humor. They have even been seen playing practical jokes of sorts at one another’s expense. This could shed light on the evolutionary source of laughter.

"Human laughter derives from the play invitation vocalizations of Old World monkeys and apes, but this is normally confined to juveniles and adolescents; adults don’t play," Robin Dunbar professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Oxford.

c’mon get happy…


Sketches of Chimps

  • by Nathaniel Gold

“Nathaniel Gold is an Illustrator, Author, and Educator with an MFA in Illustration. His work has appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The LA Times, The New York Press as well as many others. His work was recognized by the Society of Illustrators in 2008 and in 2009 he published his first book The Chimpanzee Manifesto which went on to win a Gold Medal for outstanding book of the year in the 2010 Independent Publishing Awards (IPPY). Nathaniel is an adjunct professor at FIT in NYC where he teaches a survey course on art styles and the influences of popular culture on the development of American illustration. Nathaniel is currently working on his second book (an illustrated novel) he lives in Long Island with his wife, two children, and dog Thelonious.”

(Source: Nathaniel Gold)


Why Are Chimps Stronger Than Humans?

Even though they’re quite a bit smaller, chimps harbor exceptional strength. The reason why may come down to the difference between a Fabergé egg and a hand-dipped Easter egg: fine details.

Our muscles aren’t that much different in size from a chimp’s, but we have many more nerves feeding each one. This means we can exert much finer motor control and flex our muscles in many increments. Our motor control system also limits the degree to which we can flex our muscles in order to protect our fine motor control. A chimp has no such safeguard.

They also have longer muscle fibers (which can exert more force) and have been molded by evolution to maximize strength. For a chimp, with fewer nerve endings connecting to its longer muscles, it’s a more all-or-nothing extreme rage flex. I also wasn’t aware of their connection to Lithuanian knife smugglers, so watch out for that.

What would it be like to fight a chimp? One biologist described it like so

Picture fighting a 300-pound olympic weightlifter with the reflexes of a hockey goaltender, whose main goal is to rip your face off your skull.

But can it master the fine motor control necessary to play Angry Birds?! I rest my case.

This is Toby and I’m in love.

A few months ago I began an incredible experience as a volunteer. Just outside of Montreal the Fauna Foundation provides a sanctuary for chimps, many of whom were rescued from medical research facilities. In fact, Fauna became home to 8 HIV animals, the first infected chimps to be released from labs to a sanctuary. I was very excited when Gloria Grow, the founder, asked me if I would like to photograph the chimps–it was truly a dream for me.

It has been a remarkable journey, and a very challenging one as a photographer–and as a compassionate animal lover. I have not spoken about or shown any of my work from this incredible place…until now. I have been overwhelmed by their stories and captivated by the moments I have spent with these great, great apes. I have also been very unsure if I would be able to capture them to any degree close to how they have moved me. I have decided to start sharing some of my photos, and encounters, over the coming weeks. I hope I do them proud.

(Visit faunachimps.tumblr, or  and make friends with the chimps.)