Photo of a Silverback gorilla mother and baby, taken by Natalia Reagan.
Photo of a Silverback gorilla mother and baby, taken by Natalia Reagan.

Cosmic Queries: Primatology

Critically endangered western lowland gorilla mother and baby. Credit: Natalia Reagan.

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About This Episode

Chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, monkeys, and more – explore the strange yet familiar world of primates with Neil deGrasse Tyson, comic co-host Chuck Nice, and primatologist (and StarTalk All-Stars host) Natalia Reagan. Learn about the evolution of primates: how we get exotic animals, if humanity’s evolution will be shaped by technology, and if evolution is still occurring amongst modern day non-human primates. Natalia justifies why the spider monkey is her favorite primate, and also discusses the spider monkey census research she helped conduct. You’ll also hear about the problems with hybrid primates and cross-breeding, and about macaques, the second most widely geographically distributed primates after humans. Investigate the violence in chimp culture, the frequency of “ape rape,” and whether monkeys can go crazy. Delve into the higher learning capabilities of non-human primates and how our study of primate intelligence must go beyond pattern recognition and sign language to social behavior and more. Neil reflects on the thinking behind the original Planet of the Apes film, and you’ll find out why certain branches of the human species have more Neanderthal in them than others. All this, plus the possibility of primates in the TRAPPIST-1 system, and Natalia demonstrates a howler monkey call – something you don’t want to miss!

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Cosmic Queries: Primatology

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