Caring shaped us?
"Our love of all things furry has deep roots in human evolution and may have even shaped how our ancestors developed language and other tools of civilization," Jeremy Hsu writes for LiveScience.com. "This 'animal connection' compelled humans to learn about and care for fellow creatures, said Pat Shipman, a paleoanthropologist at Penn State University. She added that the behaviour seems highly abnormal for other animals on the rare occasions that, say, captive tigers nurture pigs or vice versa. 'The animal connection runs through the whole [human history]and connects the other big evolutionary leaps, including stone tools, language and domestication,' Shipman explained. … The seemingly unique human tendency still persists in modern societies - for instance, more U.S. households have pets than have children. 'You see homeless people on the streets with pets, and people in dire circumstances keeping pets,' Shipman told LiveScience. 'That suggests there's something humans get out of it, which is pretty old.'"
Monkey wanted to cuddle
"Visitors to Paignton Zoo in [England]were astonished to witness a monkey apparently trying to adopt a toad," The Daily Telegraph reports. "Swoozie, a female swamp monkey, saved the amphibian from a pond at the edge of her enclosure. She then spent a whole day with the common toad before it was able to wriggle free. Crowds gathered as the seven-year-old monkey cuddled the toad and even rubbed the cold-blooded creature to try and warm it up. The bizarre event was captured on camera by retired teacher Sheila Hassanein, 64, who was visiting the zoo. She said: 'The monkey was trying to shield it from view, she was treating it as if it was her baby and she was trying to protect it.'"
An orangutan's day
"Orangutans are more economical than any other primate, including humans," Jennifer Viegas writes for Discovery News. "A new study found that orangutans need less food fuel than we do for the same, or greater, levels of activity." Lead author Herman Pontzer said that when they do eat, orangutans nibble mostly on ripe fruit, along with smaller portions of leaves and seeds. "They wake up early, after a long night's sleep," said Dr. Pontzer, an assistant professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. "Then they spend the day socializing, exploring their indoor or outdoor enclosures. ... They also regularly engage in games with researchers." Taken together, these activities add up to the same level of exercise performed by humans in physically demanding agricultural lifestyles, according to the study, published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A swap meet
"Two years back, Dimas Aliprandi and Elton Plaster didn't know of each other's existence. Then they learned they had been accidentally switched at birth more than 20 years ago," Stan Lehman reports for Associated Press. "The discovery didn't bring bitterness or recrimination. Rather it led to the creation of a bigger family. Today, the two 25-year-olds are living and working together with both sets of parents growing vegetables and coffee on a small farm in southeastern Brazil." It began when Mr. Aliprandi, intrigued that he didn't resemble his four siblings, paid for a DNA test that he took with his parents. A second DNA test confirmed its result: His parents were not his birth parents. Hospital records showed Mr. Plaster was born there on the same day. More DNA testing confirmed the accidental switch at birth. "Elton and I wanted to remain with those who raised us and with our birth parents. We wanted to expand our families," Mr. Aliprandi said. About a year ago, the Aliprandi family accepted an offer from the Plasters to move to their farm and build a home.
Anguish for eggheads
"It's S&M for PhDs: Cuckolding, in which men watch their wives have sex with other guys, is catching on among people with high IQs who revel in the psychological agony," Anneli Rufus writes for The Daily Beast. "… Cuckoldry is defined as a wife's infidelity. Chaucer and Shakespeare characterized it as the ultimate shame. So perhaps it's no surprise that today it's developed into a fairly popular fetish. The Internet is rife with husbands enthusiastically soliciting other men - often larger, hotter, sexier men than themselves - to have sex with their wives while they watch. … Cuckolding is rapidly emerging as the alt-sex fetish of choice for American intellectuals … Letter-perfect [online]postings celebrate cuckoldry as a cerebral pursuit, transcending ordinary voyeurism and S&M as a dangerous game involving jealousy, misery, gratitude, shame, sharing, sublimation, lust and trust."
Look, no hands
"Russian artist Viktoria … is opting to use her breasts in lieu of brushes in her latest work," The Huffington Post reports. "Based in St. Petersburg, Viktoria says her method - which involves dipping her breasts into oil and watercolour paints before pressing them to the canvas - came to her in a dream about a year ago. … [S]e says, 'It's more difficult than painting with your hands. You have to be careful you don't wipe off or damage what you've already done.'"
Thought du jour
"Human beings have a strong tendency towards rationality and decency. (If they had not, they would not desire to legitimize their prejudices and their passions.)"
- Aldous HuxleyReport Typo/Error