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Tag: chimps

Study: Dogs closer to humans than chimps

Chimps may share more of our genes, but dogs have lived with us for so long – in our houses, on our beds (and, of course, sneaking out for late night poker games) – they may evolved into a better model for understanding human social behavior, according to a new study.

In terms of cooperation, attachment to people, their ability to imitate and their understanding of human communication (verbally and non-verbally) dogs have become not just man’s best friend, but, socially, his closest counterpart in the animal kingdom, according to a paper accepted for publication in the journal Advances in the Study of Behavior.

They might even be thinking more like us, too. the Discovery Channel’s Jennifer Viegas reports.

Researchers believe adapting to the same living conditions may have resulted in the similarities. “That shared environment has led to the emergence of functionally shared behavioral features in dogs and humans and, in some cases, functionally analogous underlying cognitive skills” lead author Jozsef Topal explained to Discovery News.

(Digression: While I couldn’t agree more with that — to the extent I understand it — I don’t agree with what Topal says it should lead to:  dogs serving as the “new chimpanzees” in psychological studies. In fact, I’m not much on the chimps being used, either, or poor college students, at least when such experimentation gets into using drugs, scalpels and electrical implements. )

The study by Topal and his team at the Institute for Psychology at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences found that dogs kept as pets can be regarded in many respects as “infants in canine clothing,” and that many dog-owner relationships mirror human parental bonds with children.

In one of many recent studies conducted by the team, Topal and his colleagues taught both a 16-month-old human child and mature dogs to repeat multiple demonstrated actions on verbal command — “Do it!,” shouted in Hungarian.

The actions included turning around in circles, vocalizing, jumping up, jumping over a horizontal rod, putting an object into a container, carrying an object to the owner or parent, according to the study.

While I don’t find that all that amazing, it is fascinating to think about how dogs, the longer they live with humans and the closer our relationships become, might continue to evolve in the household. I’m guessing there are already some homes that tune into TV shows they think the dog will like. How much longer until the dog controls the remote?

Welcome to the monkey house

The Humane Society of the United States says a 9-month undercover investigation has revealed routinely unlawful mistreatment of hundreds of chimpanzees and other primates in a federally funded research project at the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana.

As a result, HSUS has forwarded a 108-page complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, alleging at least 338 possible violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act at the center. The law sets minimal standards for the treatment of animals in labs.

The HSUS covertly videotaped the lab, gathering evidence of severe distress of primates in isolation, including self-mutilation — tearing gaping wounds into their arms and legs in what the HSUS says could be a result of the center’s failure to provide adequate environmental enhancement.

In addition, the report says, dart guns and squeeze cages are shown causing acute psychological distress to chimpanzees and monkeys.

“These experiments come at an enormous short-term and long-term expense to taxpayers, and an even greater expense in suffering and anguish to chimpanzees and other primates forced to live in this pitiful laboratory,” said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO.

“Our investigation found an abject failure on NIRC’s part to attend to the psychological well-being of primates as dictated by law, a lax USDA attitude about enforcing that law, and a knowing and gross violation of the federal government’s pledge to stop breeding more chimpanzees for research.”

The center cages about 6,000 monkeys and 325 chimpanzees on its 100 acres, but in the span of nine months, an HSUS investigator saw only about 20 of the chimpanzees used in active studies. The majority of chimpanzees at the facility appeared to be warehoused or used for breeding – at a time of fiscal crisis and when no other developed nation uses chimpanzees in experiments.

The chimps in New Iberia are among more than 1,000 chimps kept in laboratories across the United States, HSUS says.

Part of the the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the New Iberia Research Center is located on a former naval base outside of New Iberia, Louisiana.