Showing posts with label primatology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label primatology. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bigfoot Field Researchers Do Not Collect Enough Data

Fiona Stewart, a post doc student at Cambridge University
pioneered a new way of understanding our closest ancestors.
Collect data, any data. Record what you observe. These are tenets, we believe, are missing in Bigfoot field research. Fiona, in the picture above is a great example of how simple data collection can be pretty revealing. The data she collected spanned only twelve nights, and yet, yielded some interesting results.

In an article On catching up and new primatology methods ERUDEF cites Fiona Stewart's published research on why wild chimpanzee sleep in nest. At first the article comments on what is very familiar in most of the Bigfoot research we have come across.
The early primatological field researchers valued highly personal, anecdotal evidence; they did not separate it from quantitative data collection.
Then it goes into the data driven era of modern research, which, we believe has rarely happened in Bigfoot research.
However, the discipline today, like many scientific disciplines, is legitimized predominantly by the objective analysis of quantitative data.  A methodological approach is only considered valid and reliable if the scientist removes the personal journey experienced while attempting to answer a research question.
There is a third way, to combine subjective experience with objective data. In order to understand why chimps sleep in nest, Fiona slept in them herself.
Understanding why chimpanzees choose to sleep in nests has been a difficult question for many primatologists to answer. Nest building is a complex and time-consuming activity, yet all weaned chimpanzees do it every night. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain this ubiquitous activity pattern: antipredation, antipathogen and thermoregulation. However, nobody has ever had the opportunity to empirically test any of these hypotheses for both logistical and ethical reasons.
Chimpanzees hanging out in a nest. Photo courtesy of Fiona’s new approach was unorthodox, but it seems to have yielded interesting and intriguing results. For 12 nights she slept in either an arboreal chimpanzee nest or on the bare ground, all the while collecting data on her core body temperature, sleep duration, external and internal sources of disturbance and number of parasitic bites.
She then compared the data from her nights sleeping a chimpanzee nest with night spent sleeping without a nest structure. The results provided the first evidence that arboreal nests provide protection from parasites, assist with thermoregulation and improve overall sleep quality.
Chimps nesting.
Although Fiona gets credit for pioneering this "type" of research, it is important to note, according to a Grover Krantz obituary, "Once, in order to find out the advantage of huge brow ridges to Homo erectus, he made himself a replica of a homo erectus brow ridge that he strapped above his eyes [for six months]."

Fiona's example makes two arguments for us; one, we are not collecting enough data, two, data collection is simple and does not require a lot or time or effort to come to a conclusion.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Small Fossil Primate found in Texas

Scale bar equals 2 mm. Photo from Kirk & Williams (2011).
Lingual view (side that touches the tongue) of Mescalerolemur horneri partial mandible. 
Sure they were as small as lemurs, but this was news to us that any type of primate was documented in North America. The other interesting point of this article is the place where the fossils were found, "Devils Graveyard". Geographical nomenclature twith titles like devils, demon, etc are sometimes considered hotspots by bigfooters.

Do you know that fossil primates once roam North America? I didn’t know either so this discovery was a shock and a “d’oh” moment at the same time.
Anywho … A fossil primate from the Eocene Epoch was discovered in Devil’s Graveyard badlands of West Texas by Anthropologists Christopher Kirk and Blythe Williams. Named Mescalerolemur horneri, this new fossil primate lived about 43 million years ago is a member of the extinct group, adapiforms, that are found all over the Northern Hemisphere. Mescalerolemur looked like a modern-day greater dwarf lemur and weighs about 370 grams.
Interestingly enough, Mescalerolemur are more closely related to Eurasian and African adapiforms than those from North America. Darwinius masillae, famously known as Aunt Ida, was a Eurasian adapiform. Another interesting fact to point out is that Mescalerolemur had unfused mandibular symphysis, similar to those of Strepsirrhines (lemurs, lorises and galagos). The authors posit that this is definitive evidence that adapiforms are more similar to Strepsirrhines than Haplorrhines (humans are Haplorrhines). Kirk &Williams (2011) published their findings on Journal of Evolution: New adapiform primate of Old World af´Čünities from the Devil’s Graveyard Formation of Texas (PDF). You can also read more about the discovery at EurekAlert: Anthropologist discovers new fossil primate species in West Texas.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bigfoot Fans: 20 blogs for primatology students

Yes yes, coming right up! We wouldn't be true to ourselves, if we didn't provide some primatology sources once in a while. We love primatology and believe if you are interested in Sasquatch you should also be interested in primatology.

Why is primatology so important? Besides learning what a midtarsal break is? Primatology also includes other disciplines such as biology, anthropology, morphology and even understanding the social mind of primates.

So the list below is a unique list. It is a top 20 blogs for primatology students, provided by How do we know its a good list? Because right at the top is our very favorite, If you don't check out every blog on the list, we believe is essential.

  1. This stripped-down WordPress blog is low on frills but high on great content, including the latest news on animal discoveries and primate study centers. (This post about a study comparing ape behavior in the exhibit and holding areas of a zoo is a great example.) Definitely a source to bookmark.

  2. Afarensis: Anthropology, Evolution, and Science: Taking the title and mock persona of a hominid that lived millions of years ago, Afarensis offers bite-sized but invaluable blurbs and links to major primatology news as well as other sharp bloggers in the field. Tons of archives and a deep blogroll make it a worthy read.

  3. Primate Freedom: Fantastically detailed posts offering context and history for primate news, especially relating to cruel lab tests. One of the smarest ways to stay informed.

  4. DNApes: DNApes, given their title, isn't one to shy away from mixing humor with primatology. (The picture on their Facebook page speaks volumes.) They post a variety of news articles and video links, with the occasional joke or fake story thrown in for good measure. Lighthearted but never dumb.

  5. MonkeyWatch: MonkeyWatch is basically like having an RSS feed for primate news. The posts usually don't have a lot of additional writing beyond a summary and link out, but the news being reported is still perfect for primatology students. Basic but very helpful.

  6. The Prancing Papio: Raymond Ho started this blog when he was an undergraduate getting a bachelor's degree in anthropology. Now a graduate and devoted primatologist, he continues to write with informed and strong opinions about animal news and research.

  7. Savage Minds: Savage Minds is great for students because it's a collective blog authored by Ph.D. candidates and professors with the goal of exploring anthropology (including primatology) and making it a lot easier to digest for broad audiences. Their news and opinion pieces are mixed with lighter fare like best of the web round-ups.

  8. Your Inner Bonobo: Bonobo Handshake author Vanessa Woods runs this blog as part of the Psychology Today brand, and she focuses on chimp news from around the world.

  9. Bone Girl: Kristina Killgrove ranges far and wide in her blog — as a physical anthropologist, she's into the Fox series Bones — but she also touches on primate issues with skill and intelligence.

  10. Barbara J. King: Barbara King, the Chancellor Professor of Anthropology at the College of William & Mary, has studied apes across Africa and the United States and holds multiple degrees in anthropology. Basically, she knows what she's saying, and if you know what's good, you'll read.

  11. Beast Ape and the Bleeding Heart Baboons: Run by an anonymous doctoral student in the midwest, this blog is devoted to behavioral biology and all that entails, including primatology and psychology.

  12. A Primate of Modern Aspect: Another anonymously run blog by a graduate student from the Great Lakes region (there must be hell to pay for mouthing off against fellow academics online), this site offers incisive breakdowns of current primate research as well as entertaining observations on the life of a grad student.

  13. John Hawks Weblog: Paleoanthropology, Genetics, and Evolution: Anthropologist John Hawks teaches at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and blogs about everything from early man to monkey behavior. A wide-ranging but always entertaining blog from one of the most committed bloggers in the field.

  14. Spider Monkey Tales: Although not updated quite as frequently as some others, Spider Monkey Tales makes up for that by offering great insights and images from monkey research in the field. A great way for students to get a grasp on what the life is like.

  15. This Is Serious Monkey Business: Blogging from a university anthropology department, this writer is a self-proclaimed "budding primatologist" whose posts focus on monkey life, culture, and research. Always loads of solid info.

  16. The Monkey Matters Blog: Blogger Kenny Chiou is a researcher and field biologist with a passion for primate evolution. His blog and the archives provide a fascinating firsthand look at what it's like to study primates in their natural habitats and learn from their lives.

  17. Neighbor Ape: Jill Pruetz writes from Senegal, on the western coast of Africa, with the goal of raising awareness about chimpanzees there and raising money to save them. It also covers charity work aimed at locals.

  18. Beyond Bones: Run by the Houston Museum of Natural Science, this insightful blog covers history and culture from an anthropological perspective.

  19. Nature Alert: The giant banner says it all: "Dedicated to helping save orangutans and their forest homes." Some of the news reports about abused or slaughtered animals are heartbreaking, but that dedication to exposing and ending cruelty is precisely what makes this blog such a necessary read.

  20. Great Apes Blog: Hosted by National Geographic, this blog offers news and insights from field conservationists working throughout Asia and Africa to preserve great apes. A fantastic global perspective on the plight of primates.

You Might Also Like
Amateur Primatology is Bigfooting
Paleoanthropology Meets Primatology

External Links
Src: 20 Best Blogs for Primatology Students

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Amateur Primatology is Bigfooting

We talked to a seasoned Bigfooter the other night and he compared Bigfooting to amateur astronomy. Immediately we "got it," and thought it was a perfect analogy. Why? Let's see what Wikipedia has to say on the subject of amateur astronomy.

Amateur astronomy, also called backyard astronomy, is a hobby whose participants enjoy watching the night sky (and the day sky too, for sunspots, eclipses, etc.), and the plethora of objects found in it, mainly with portable telescopes and binoculars.

Even though scientific research is not their main goal, many amateur astronomers make a contribution to astronomy by monitoring variable stars, tracking asteroids and discovering transient objects, such as comets. Such efforts are one of the relatively few ways interested amateurs can still make useful contributions to scientific knowledge.

Its that last sentence that's the kicker. Just the same as amateur astronomers monitor, record, study and report. We too, are contributing to science as amateur primatologist.

Another sentence about amateur astronomy that we found inspiring was:

The typical amateur astronomer is one who does not depend on the field of astronomy as a primary source of income or support, and does not have a professional degree or advanced academic training in the subject.

Bigfoot Lunch Club has grown in the community and we have a lot of our readers to thank for it. In the spirit of tolerance and respect,we believe in truly open minds that are not afraid to question both the assumptions of science and the dogma of fanatics. Most importantly, we believe in a world bigger than the sum of our present knowledge that still holds mystery, wonder, and a place for a creature known as Bigfoot.

Thank you all you amateur primatologist--and the professional ones too!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Primatology From The Edge

Interesting article at the

By Vanessa Woods & Brian Hare

In the 6 million years since hominids split from the evolutionary ancestor we share with chimpanzees and bonobos, something happened to our brains that allowed us to become master cooperators, accumulate knowledge at a rapid rate, and manipulate tools to colonize almost every corner of the planet.

VANESSA WOODS, author of "It's Every Monkey for Themselves", is an award-winning journalist who has a double degree in biology and English from the University of New South Wales. She is a researcher with the Hominoid Psychology Research Group and studies the psychology of bonobos and chimpanzees in Africa.

BRIAN HARE is an anthropologist and an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy at Duke University. His research centers on human cognitive evolution, and his experience in the field includes work in Siberia, the jungle of Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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