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19 December 2013 12:36 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
After 20 years of trying, researchers have finally convicted massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia as the culprit in...
Five federally funded optical and radio telescopes in the United States could be forced to shut down over the next 3...
A 2-year budget agreement pushes back the threat of sequestration but leaves scientists still wondering how much money...
After a decade away from physics, Robert Laughlin, a Nobel laureate at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California,...
Computer scientists and others have teamed up to persuade the 117 state parties to the Convention on Certain...
The swine flu pandemic of late 2009 had a peculiar aftereffect in parts of Europe: a spike in children being diagnosed...
- 19 December 2013 12:36 pm , Vol. 342 , #6165
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Video: Swimming Apes Caught on Tape
15 August 2013 3:45 pm
No floaties required. Researchers now have the first video evidence that apes can learn to swim and dive. Like humans, wild apes exposed to deep water will fumble and flail. Our uncoordinated movements bear little resemblance to the tried-and-true doggy paddle that most other mammals use instinctively. But a chimpanzee named Cooper and an orangutan named Suryia, both raised in captivity and regularly exposed to bathtubs and swimming pools, developed unexpected underwater skill. Reassured by the presence of a safety rope, Cooper became increasingly adventurous over a period of days: He could tread water, submerge himself (with eyes shut tight), and propel himself with a kick reminiscent of the human breaststroke. Suryia (shown in the video above) also opted for a breaststroke-esque kick, but took his skills a step further, opening his eyes underwater and traveling up to 4 meters while submerged for as long as 15 seconds. In a report this week in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, researchers offer an evolutionary explanation: When an early ancestor of modern apes took to the trees, they say, innate swimming ability likely lost its advantage, and the trait disappeared. The fact that our muscles and brains adapted to graceful swinging movements in the air and upright walking on the ground might account for the lengthwise reaching and pulling movements that define Cooper and Suryia’s aquatic style.