Chimpanzees Are Fascinated By Robots Too

Scientists put an interactive robot in an enclosure inhabited by 16 chimpanzees. Their reactions were surprisingly similar to those of humans, opening up potential new ways to observe them without humans being present.

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Scientists from the University of Portsmouth and Yerkes Primate Nature Center allowed 16 chimpanzees to see them interacting with a robot -- one that looked like a human doll but could make sounds and gestures like a human or a chimpanzee -- before giving the robot to them. Almost all of them communicated actively with the robot in some way, with some giving it toys and others banging on the side of the cage to get its attention. Team member and University of Portsmouth lecturer Marina Davila-Ross says the chimps "recognised and showed increased interest when the robot imitated their body movements...[but] were less interested when the robot imitated the bodily movements of a human." One chimp even laughed at the robot, which showed evidence of full social interaction.

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Davila-Ross says, "[Humans] know that a robot cannot feel or even fully respond to us, but the temptation to try is irresistible. We even respond positively when they smile." The same seems to be true for chimps, which opens up the possibility for future observations of more complex social behaviors involving an interactive "someone." A paper describing the experiment was published in Animal Cognition.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at The Conversation

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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