credit to kevin.j on Flickr

Monkey Hear, Monkey Do

Researchers from St Andrews have found that bonobos use different vocalisations to tell others about food quality/preferred food. Five different calls have been identified, with short ‘peep’ sounds and high pitch long barks being produced when the primates found food they liked better, and lower pitch ‘peep-yelp’ sounds being made when less-preferred foods were found.

As well as this, it was found that these calls can be combined in sequences in order to inform others the whereabouts of better food. Acoustic quality was also found to be important, as when bonobos were played less distinct sequenced calls, they were not as able to direct their foraging efforts to find the preferred food.

Although the syntax (sentence structure) used in call sequences is different to that of human language, the fact that meaning could be extracted by listening to the calls is similar to the ways in which we listen and understand our own language.

Katie Henderson


Chocolatey Goodness

Feeling guilty about the sheer volume of Easter eggs you’ve been eating over the past week? Please don’t feel ashamed, here are four reasons why eating all that chocolate was actually a fabulous idea:

It makes you happy –that’s a scientific fact. Small amounts of an amino acid called trytophan are found in chocolate, and these molecules are used by the brain to make the neurotransmitter serotonin, which produces feelings of wellbeing.

It’s a stimulant. Chocolate contains a weak stimulant, theobromine, which produces a ‘high’ similar to that of caffeine.

It can act as an anti-depressant. Phenylethylalanine is a chemical which promotes feelings associated with the first euphoric moments of falling in love: excitement, attraction, giddiness, and this wonderful substance is present in chocolate. But even better, when combined with dopamine which is naturally produced by our brains, phenylethylalanine becomes a natural anti-depressant.

Dark chocolate is a SuperFood. The higher the cocoa content in chocolate, the more beneficial it is to our health. Cocoa beans contain large amounts of flavonols, which are  antioxidants that help prevent cancer, maintain healthy blood pressure, protect blood vessels, and promote cardiac health. Dark chocolate is also great for your skin – an added bonus.

So there you go, there’s no reason to feel guilty at all; by eating chocolate you’ll be left happy, invigorated, and with a healthy heart and glowing skin! …I can’t guarantee you’ll fit into your summer swimwear though.

Hilary Boden