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News/Press releases

Contact: Sandra Jacob (e-mail: info@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de, phone: +49 (0) 341-3550 122)


January 21, 2016: Fleeting fruit in a tropical rainforest
Chimpanzee and fruit

To find energy-rich food, like tropical ripe fruit, is a challenge for chimpanzees

In our supermarkets we buy raspberries in winter and chestnuts in summer. But how challenging would life become, if we needed to consume large amounts of fruit for our daily meal and had to collect them ourselves? With a largely plant-based diet, simple stomachs, and the additional cost of maintaining relatively large brains, chimpanzees face a serious challenge in their daily search for energy and nutrients. Using data on the monthly availability of young leaves, unripe and ripe fruits in three tropical rain forests in East, Central and West Africa, a consortium of researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, Harvard University, McGill University, the University of St. Andrews and the Université Félix Houphouët Boigny, estimated how difficult it is for chimpanzees to find food and to predict its availability in individual trees. This study reports which cognitive strategies chimpanzees can use to gain privileged access to the most energy-rich but ephemeral food.

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January 14, 2016: Chimp friendships are based on trust
Chimpanzees in Kenya

Max Planck researchers found that our closest relatives, too, trust their friends

It almost goes without saying that trust is a defining element of genuine human friendship. Now, researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, suggest that the same holds true among chimpanzee pals. Their findings suggest that friendship based on trust has evolved much earlier than previously thought and is not unique to humans.

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January 07, 2016: Neanderthals boosted our immune system

The mixing of archaic human forms played an important role in shaping the immune system of modern humans

When modern humans met Neanderthals in Europe and the two species began interbreeding many thousands of years ago, the exchange left humans with gene variations that have increased the ability of those who carry them to ward off infection. This inheritance from Neanderthals may have also left some people more prone to allergies. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and the Institut Pasteur and the CNRS in Paris, France, report about the discoveries in two independent studies, adding to evidence for an important role for interspecies relations in human evolution and specifically in the evolution of the innate immune system, which serves as the body's first line of defense against infection.

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Original publication