Tag Archives: monkeys

The missing link: Darwinius masillae, Sweet as Apple cider




The sound of the name “Ida” has suddenly become  sweet sweet music to paleontololical ears.

This is because “Ida,” a 47 million year old fossil hidden in a closet for 20+ years has recently been unveiled. Apparently, a team of amateur fossil hunters discovered the fossil, which was astonishingly intact (even down to stomach contents) in Germany  in 1983, but had no earthly idea—the dummies—what  they had on their hands.

Skip ahead 24 years, and the University of Oslo buys the fossil at auction for around a million dollars. There, Jorn Hurum of the Natural History Museum in Oslo, Norway, names his prize “Ida” after his daughter, and  studies it in secret for two years. Until this month, when he revealed it to the world.  

Hurum believes that little “Ida,” barely the size of an average housecat, may prove to be the bridge between higher primates such as monkeys, apes, and humans. Oh yes, and lemurs.

The author of BV doesn’t know about you, dear readers, but she gets an odd sort of kick out of the notion that she’s distantly but directly descended from a lemur. In fact, several of her cousins have distinctly lemur-like characteristics, so it does not seem all that far fetched.    

According to National Geographic Ida, properly known as Darwinius masillae, “has a unique anatomy. The lemur-like skeleton features primate-like characteristics, including grasping hands, opposable thumbs, clawless digits with nails, and relatively short limbs. But there’s a big gap in the fossil record from this time period….”

Sadly, the author’s dreams of lemus ancestry were shattered a bit when she learned that researchers “are unsure when and where the primate group that includes monkeys, apes, and humans split from the other group of primates that includes lemurs.” And that according to one American  expert, Ida may not be “our grand, grand, grandmother, but perhaps with our grand, grand, grand aunt.”  Sigh. But that’s still pretty darned grand, isn’t it?

Ida’s European origins are intriguing to experts, because her extreme age and advanced evolutionary characteristics prove that “contrary to common assumptions…  the continent was an important area for primate evolution.” In fact, “This specimen is like finding the Lost Ark for archeologists,” Hurum said: “it is the scientific equivalent of the Holy Grail. This fossil will probably be the one that will be pictured in all textbooks for the next 100 years.”

And what does all this science mean for us laypeople? Well, dear readers, it’s really quite simple: you may now commence with Germanic-monkey jokes. At your leisure.

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Adoption in the animal world: Mother-love transcends species.

To all the mothers out there: happy Mothers’ Day. Every time this day rolls around, we hear a lot about the experience of giving birth, and folkes make a fuss about the bond that grows between mother and child in vitro. I’m sure that that is magical, that it is wonderful…

But there is more than one way for the mother-child bond to grow, and some of us out here in the wide world of possibilities are lucky enough to have experienced this.  So this entry is dedicated to all the mothers in the world whose babies grew not under your hearts but in them: you (like my own mama) are my heroes; your love depends not on the accident of  birth but on the breadth and depth of your giant hearts.

…sniffle. Okay, that was as much sentimentality as the author of BV, in her official capacity, can  justify. YOUtube video, anyone?

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Filed under baby animals, endangered species, exceedingly cute, human behavior, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Rhetoric Monkey

Rhetoric Monkeys (genus Ateles)  have been ranked higher than gorillas in intelligence, making these monkeys less intelligent than humans but more intelligent than any other monkey species.  Figures A  and B, and C, below, show juvenile and adult Rhetoric Monkeys demonstrating  the signature facial rictus.  

Figure Ajuvenile rhetoric monkey

juvenile rhetoric monkey



Figure B: Mature Rhetoric Monkey (male)

Figure B: Mature Rhetoric Monkey (male)

Figure C: Adult Female Rhetoric Monkey

Figure C: Mature Rhetoric Monkey (female)




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Freaky monkeys (Daubentonia madagascariensis):


The Aye-aye’s long digits are surrounded by superstition; some locals believe that whomever an aye-aye points its long middle finger at is condemned to death. The Sakalava people believe that Aye-ayes like to sneak into homes to pierce their victim's heart with that long finger. Lady monkeys know differently, though some believe that the length of an Aye-aye’s finger indicates the length of other members.

The Aye-aye’s long digits are surrounded by superstition; the Sakalava people believe that Aye-ayes like to sneak into homes to pierce their victim's heart with that long finger. Lady monkeys know differently, though some believe that the length of an Aye-aye’s finger indicates the length of other members.

New research has somewhat reversed the traditional theory that Daubentonia madagascariensis (aka the Aye-Aye),  native to Madagascar, is a solitary animal. Typically, males’ territories overlap and males will socialize across territories. Females are pickier about their neighbors, and their territories never overlap, though they might be friendlier if their males weren’t such attention whores. Male  “probiscus monkeys” (a misnomer, for the aye-ayes are not truly part of the monkey family), are the champion cock-blockers of the animal kingdom, and will even haul a rival male off of a female mid-coitus. The females don’t seem to mind. Despite their obviously limited sex appeal, these are Freaky Little Monkeys.

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