The first direct brain-machine interface, developed in the 1990s, connected a computer to a rat. By 2003, scientists had mostly replaced rats with nonhuman primates. One of which is Jianhui, an eight-year-old rhesus macaque at Zhejiang University in eastern China.
Researchers have just discovered that gibbons not only compete with our top ranks of singers--they have the technique down pat with almost no effort. How did we find this out? By gassing them with helium and listening in on the results, of course.
Paleo diets, in which people attempt to eat like they imagine cavemen ate (mostly meats, supplemented with occasional wild fruits), were trendy a few years back, and still have their adherents. The idea is that modern humans are healthier when eating what our bodies evolved to eat. And that's a fine idea, but Rob Dunn over at Scientific American has a correction: to find out what our bodies evolved to eat, why stop at the Paleolithic period? Why not go back further--to apes and monkeys? It's a great piece about how arbitrary diets can be. Read it here.
Neurologists working with monkeys at Washington University in St. Louis to decode brain activity have stumbled upon a rather surprising result. While working to demonstrate that multiple parameters can be seen in the firing rate of a single neuron (and that certain parameters are embedded in neurons only if they are needed to solve the immediate task), they also found that they could read their monkeys’ minds.
Did you know that bonobos have a "fascination with computers"? No? Neither did we. But a new Kickstarter project from the Bonobo Hope Great Ape Trust Sanctuary in Des Moines, Iowa needs funding to make every bonobo's technological dreams a reality--from operating vending machines to, improbably, controlling their own robots.
A rhesus macaque awaits a vasectomy at a wildlife rescue facility in Himachal Pradesh, India. The state’s estimated 319,000 monkeys frequently ransack garbage cans and harass citizens. Last year, the state government announced a bounty of 500 rupees ($9.50) to anyone who captured and transported a monkey to a sterilization center, and program administrators estimate that they will neuter 200,000 monkeys, at 25 sterilization centers statewide, by June.
Scores of animals exist in scientific laboratories for the purpose of serving as our proxies, their cortices mapped and their flu responses studied so scientists can figure out how humans work. But in many cases, there’s little agreement between their functions and ours, and scientists need to figure out how to draw useful comparisons. To get a better handle on this, brain researchers had humans and monkeys watch “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” inside an MRI machine.
Scientists have produced the world’s first chimeric monkeys, developed from stem cells harvested from separate embryos. They contain genetic material from as many as six genomes. The infant rhesus monkeys are totally healthy and could hold great promise for future stem cell research in primates, researchers say.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.