Sunday, June 29, 2014

Monkey mix-and-match

In a newly published paper in Nature Communications entitled, "Character displacement of Cercopithecini primate visual signals," researchers from New York University and the University of Exeter established that closely-related guenon monkey species of Central and West Africa have involved distinguishing facial features to avoid interbreeding, which can lead to infertility. These visual cues had been observed 30 years ago by Oxford zoologist Jonathan Kingdon, but he had been unable to compile enough hard evidence to support the theory. Lead author William L. Allen and his colleagues were able to rely on advanced facial recognition software to do the job after loading some 1,400 photographs of 22 species from zoos in the U.S. and U.K., plus a Nigerian wildlife sanctuary (EXAMPLES ABOVE). The computer then analyzed them for signs of hybridization, and the scientists were able to conclude – as the Discovery blog catchily proclaims - "Monkey Mohawks and Muttonchops Prevent Interbreeding."

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