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Mr. Lee, the slow loris.

These animals are sadly becoming more common in the pet trade, where their teeth are often removed to prevent biting. This is because they are venomous primates. They produce toxin from a gland on their arm. When threatened, they lick the gland on their arms and then bite. The toxin is extremely dangerous and can be lethal to humans.

LOOK AT THE BLUE BALLS ON THIS MONKEY. LOOK AT IT.

Why are testicles kept in a vulnerable dangling sac? It’s not why you think.

Soccer fans call it brave goalkeeping, the act of springing into a star shape in front of an attacker who is about to kick the ball as hard as possible toward the goal. As I shuffled from the field, bent forward, eyes watering, waiting for the excruciating whack of pain in my crotch to metamorphose into a gut-wrenching ache, I thought only stupid goalkeeping. But after the fourth customary slap on the back from a teammate chortling, “Hope you never wanted kids, pal,” I thought only stupid, stupid testicles.

Natural selection has sculpted the mammalian forelimb into horses’ front legs, dolphins’ fins, bats’ wings, and my soccer ball-catching hands. Why, on the path from the primordial soup to us curious hairless apes, did evolution house the essential male reproductive organs in an exposed sac? It’s like a bank deciding against a vault and keeping its money in a tent on the sidewalk.

Some of you may be thinking that there is a simple answer: temperature. This arrangement evolved to keep them cool. I thought so, too, and assumed that a quick glimpse at the scientific literature would reveal the biological reasons and I’d move on. But what I found was that the small band of scientists who have dedicated their professional time to pondering the scrotum’s existence are starkly divided over this so-called cooling hypothesis.

Reams of data show that scrotal sperm factories, including our own, work best a few degrees below core body temperature. The problem is, this doesn’t prove cooling was the reason that testicles originally descended. It’s a straight-up chicken-and-egg situation—did testicles leave the kitchen because they couldn’t stand the heat, or do they work best in the cold because they had to leave the body?

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Things I Learned as a Field Biologist #635

There may come a time when, late one night deep in the forests of Madagascar, you stumble upon something that is magnificent in its diminution. A creature so glorious in its eensiness that you must steel every nerve to keep the squee at bay. But this encounter was no accident… you spent months of planning, weeks of waiting for permits and equipment, and so many long nights setting traps to ensnare this single, miniscule beast…

And now it is time.

Time to make the decision that will either bring these months to their most glorious fruition, or leave you bitter and empty-handed.

Will you…

1) Gingerly rub the soft mound of its belly… gently! Ever so gently…

2) Daub its tiny ventrum with rubbing alcohol? Cooling sensations help!

Or

3) Delicately squeeze it? It is, after all, roughly the size of a travel-sized toothpaste tube.

Choose, but choose wisely:

There are only so many ways to convince a mouse lemur (Microcebus spp.) to urinate.

And you NEED that urine.

Because science.

image

Special thanks to my one of my favorite partners in gimlet-soaked-Jesus-hosted-glittery-burlesque crime for this post (and the International Primatological Society meetings in Hanoi for bringing us together again). Keep gingerly rubbing those fuzzy bellies, Luca. Keep gingerly rubbing.

Chimps Outplay Humans in Brain Games

We humans assume we are the smartest of all creations. In a world with over 8.7 million species, only we have the ability to understand the inner workings of our body while also unraveling the mysteries of the universe. We are the geniuses, the philosophers, the artists, the poets and savants. We amuse at a dog playing ball, a dolphin jumping rings, or a monkey imitating man because we think of these as remarkable acts for animals that, we presume, aren’t smart as us. But what is smart? Is it just about having ideas, or being good at language and math?

Scientists have shown, time and again, that many animals have an extraordinary intellect. Unlike an average human brain that can barely recall a vivid scene from the last hour, chimps have a photographic memory and can memorize patterns they see in the blink of an eye. Sea lions and elephants can remember faces from decades ago. Animals also have a unique sense perception. Sniffer dogs can detect the first signs of colon cancer by the scents of patients, while doctors flounder in early diagnosis. So the point is animals are smart too. But that’s not the upsetting realization. What happens when, for just once, a chimp or a dog challenges man to one of their feats? Well, for one, a precarious face-off – like the one Matt Reeves conceived in the Planet of the Apes – would seem a tad less unlikely than we thought.

In a recent study by psychologists Colin Camerer and Tetsuro Matsuzawa, chimps and humans played a strategy game – and unexpectedly, the chimps outplayed the humans.

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(Image: Shutterstock)

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Here’s an endearing new story for the Department of Unexpected Interspecies Friendship. It’s a couple years old, but no less touching for being a bit dated. Meet Suryia the Orangutan and Roscoe the Bluetick Coonhound, an improbable pair who’ve been inseparable ever since they met at The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (TIGERS) in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s the same endangered wildlife reserve that’s home to another Bubbles and Bella, another awesome and unlikely pair of pals.

Suryia and Roscoe first met in 2008 soon after Roscoe first appeared at the reserve and starting following TIGERS staff members as they walked home from work.

He was immediately spotted by the orangutan, who ambled over to make friends. Dr Bhagavan Antle, the reserve’s founder, said: ‘Roscoe looked really thin and a little lost so we fed him and took care of him. He followed us through the gate and ran over and found Suryia. As soon as he saw Roscoe, Suryia ran over to him and they started playing.

'Dogs are usually scared of primates, but they took to each other straight away. We made a few calls to see if he belonged to anyone and when no one came forward, Roscoe ended up staying.'

In 2011 Dr. Antle published a book of photographs which, entitled Suryia and Roscoe: The True Story of an Unlikely Friendship, shows the ape and pup enjoying each other’s company at the wildlife reserve.

Visit Dailymail.co.ukfor even more photos of this charming primate/canine duo.

Even if there was no God, even if human beings had no soul, it would still be true that evolution had created a remarkable animal — the human animal — during its millions of years of labor. So very like our closest biological relatives, the chimpanzees, yet so different. For our study of the chimpanzees had helped to pinpoint not only the similarities between them and us, but also those ways in which we are most different. Admittedly, we are not the only beings with personalities, reasoning powers, altruism, and emotions like joy and sorrow; nor are we the only beings capable of mental as well as physical suffering. But our intellect has grown mighty in complexity since the first true men branched off from the ape-man stock some two million years ago. And we, and only we, have developed a sophisticated spoken language. For the first time in evolution, a species evolved that was able to teach its young about objects and events not present, to pass on wisdom gleaned from the successes — and the mistakes — of the past, to make plans for the distant future, to discuss ideas so that they could grow, sometimes out of all recognition, through the combined wisdom of the group.

Happy 80th Birthday, Jane Goodall: The Beloved Primatologist on Science, Religion, and Our Human Responsibilities

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