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Wouldn't You Rather Talk About Monkeys

Than all this politics crap? Of course you would. Only people with no souls would choose politics over monkeys smashing rocks.


The monkey picks up a potato-sized rock in his tiny hands, raises it above his head and smashes it down with all his might on another stone embedded in the ground. As the creature enthusiastically bashes away, over and over, flakes fly off the rock he is wielding. They are sharp enough to cut meat or plant material. The monkey does not pay much attention to the flakes, save to place one on the embedded rock and attempt to smash it, too. But he has unintentionally produced artifacts that look for all the world like stone tools found at some human archaeological sites.

Uh oh. Was it monkey or was it man?

Now a new study has examined the capuchin-produced stone flakes and compared them to human-made artifacts, and it turns out that the chips meet criteria used to distinguish human tools from naturally broken rocks. The findings, published in the October 20 Nature, could fuel debate over controversial archaeological sites in Brazil that are said to have some of the earliest evidence of humans in the New World. The discovery also raises questions about what differentiates humans from other primates, and how our lineage started fashioning tools from stone.
Yet in other ways the capuchin handiwork throws the divide between nonhuman primates and ourselves into higher relief. Researchers agree that the key difference between the capuchin-made artifacts and human-made ones is that the latter were produced intentionally, with a purpose in mind. For the capuchins, sharp-edged flakes appear to be disposable byproducts of their quest for quartz dust. For early humans, they almost certainly aided survival by facilitating access to food.

Although the capuchin discovery demonstrates that nonhuman species can accidentally produce fragments of rock that look just like human-crafted cutting tools, that does not mean the human-made tools are not special, Harmand cautions. Even if human ancestors started creating flakes by mistake like the capuchins do, there was something that made them realize they could put them to use and even make new tools to suit their purposes.

Mebbe the monkeys are just getting smarter. I've seen lots of Planet of the Apes thanks to fnord12. I know what happens when primates get smart. Now we can have our choice of apocalyptic futures: Dr. Strangelove or The Ape Uprising.

By min | October 21, 2016, 8:27 AM | Science | Link


While double-checking my bird science for a comics entry, i came across this:

Genetically, birds still retain much of the code needed to make teeth. Some researchers are even trying to reverse-engineer dinosaurs by working backwards from modern birds.

Min will complain about scientists and their penchant for delving into the unknown without the safety of the world being taken into consideration, but i for one will welcome the day when you have to bring a spear out with you when you sit on your patio, just in case.

By fnord12 | October 20, 2016, 9:57 AM | Science | Link



Bumblebees seem to have a "positive emotionlike state," according to a study published this week in Science. In other words, they may experience something akin to happiness.

The study consisted of hepping the bees up on sugar water and seeing how fast they fly towards flowers they were trained to associate with having sugar water.

He and his colleagues trained bumblebees to distinguish between a blue flower placed on the left side of a container and a green one on the right. When the bees explored the blue flower, they found a 30 percent sugar solution. But when they explored the green one, they slurped up plain, unsweetened water. Eventually, the bees learned to associate the blue flower with a tasty reward.

Then the researchers tested the bees on ambiguously colored flowers at intermediate locations. Half of the insects were given a 60 percent sugar solution prior to the test, and those bees flew faster toward the ambiguous blue-green flower. The remaining bees that were not given the sugar flew more slowly.

The assumption that an ambiguous stimulus contains a reward despite the lack of evidence is called an optimism bias. Perry's experiment suggests that a bit of sugar amped up the bees into a positive emotional state, making them more optimistic that the flower would contain a sugary treat.


By min | October 12, 2016, 8:50 AM | Science | Link

Where's My Juice?

During the study, bonobos, chimpanzees and orangutans were "invited" one at a time to sit in a room and drink juice while watching a sequence of scenarios on a video monitor.


To capture the apes' attention, the researchers made each experimental scenario into a high stakes television drama starring a mysterious apelike character (a researcher in a gorilla suit), whom they dubbed King Kong.
In one scenario the King Kong figure pretended to attack a researcher, then hid in one of two hay bales, moving to the other bale while the researcher watched. Then the researcher left for awhile before returning with a stick to look for King Kong, who had left the scene while the researcher was away. In another scenario the costumed figure moved to the other hay bale after the researcher left and then departed entirely. The researchers also set up the same two scenarios in a slightly different setting--instead of hiding himself, King Kong hid a stolen rock under one of two boxes before removing it completely.

Apes from all three species consistently passed the test; even though the animals knew King Kong or the rock was gone, when the researcher returned to search for it, they consistently looked at the hay bale or box where the person had last seen the object and presumably still thought it was hidden.

I think i could pass this test. It's way easier than the one fnord12 gave me during our last D&D session.

fnord12: I'm going to name something and you have to say what beats it. You have to answer immediately. Ready? Sheep.

min: ...Axe!

fnord12: O...K...I guess that's right, too.

min: What? What were you thinking?

fnord12: Wolf?

min: Ohhh....that makes sense...

By min | October 7, 2016, 9:02 AM | Science | Link

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