A gene in Asian monkeys that may have evolved as a defence against lentiviruses, the group that includes HIV, has been identified by Harvard Medical School researchers.
The gene, TRIM5-CypA, is a hybrid of two existing genes, TRIM5 and CypA. The combination produces a single protein capable of blocking infection by viruses closely related to HIV.
This is actually the second time researchers have identified a TRIM5-CypA gene in monkeys. The other hybrid, called TRIMCyp, was discovered in 2004 in South American owl monkeys.
Normally, evolutionary biologists assume that similar DNA sequences, present in the same location in the genomes of two or more species, evolved only once.
In this scenario, the gene arises first in a common ancestor and is subsequently inherited by all the species that descend from that ancestor. In the case of TRIM5-CypA and TRIMCyp, this does not appear to be the case.
TRIM5-CypA was not found in monkeys closely related to the Asian macaques, and in fact, was not found in every macaque individual tested.
Likewise, owl monkey TRIMCyp was not found in any other species of South American primate. Researchers suggest that the two genes arose independently, once each in owl monkeys and macaques.
More tellingly, even though the protein sequences specified by two TRIM5-CypA genes are similar, at the DNA level it is obvious that the molecular events leading to formation of the two genes were different.
Evolutionary biologists refer to the acquisition of a similar adaptation in different species as ‘convergent evolution’, an example being the independent appearance of flight in both birds and bats.
The Harvard team’s genetic evidence indicates that the two TRIM5-CypA genes constitute an unambiguous and particularly striking example of convergent evolution.
That the process occurred at least twice during primate evolution suggests that the combination of the TRIM5 and CypA genes provided a strong evolutionary advantage to the individuals in which they originally appeared.
The study has been published in the latest issue of journal PLoS Pathogens, suggesting that AIDS is not a new epidemic.
story from link
Several thousand guests have solemnized an elaborate Hindu wedding ceremony between two monkeys in India’s eastern Orissa state.
At the ceremony Jhumri, the two-year old monkey ‘bride’ sported a crimson red sari, a tiara of flowers and had her forehead smeared with sandalwood paste whilst Manu the ‘groom’ was his swashbuckling self, sporting only a chain and collar at a temple in Ghanteswara village, 125 miles from the state capital Bhubaneshwar.
In keeping with tradition, three-year old Manu accompanied by a band playing raucous music and hundreds of dancing guests was received formally by the bride’s family close to the marriage venue.
Her elaborately dressed ‘relatives’ intoned loud chants normal at a Hindu wedding and to the accompaniment of fireworks showered the brown-eyed groom with flowers as he approached the coy ‘bride’, lounging bewilderedly in her ‘mother’s’ lap to garland her.
Thereafter, a Brahmin priest completed the wedding rituals around a fire, considered sacred by Hindus.
“It was a unique experience for me. It was the first time I conducted a marriage between two animals. But I followed all the rituals that I do in human marriages”, priest Daitari Dash said.
The monkeys were then presented with gifts, mostly bananas and coconuts, but also a gold necklace for the bride donated by a local businessman.
“I feel as if my own daughter is getting married. I cannot bear the thought that she would not be with us anymore” Mamina, the woman who has been looking after Jhumri after her husband found her at a local temple, said.
Her ‘groom’ was caught in a neighbouring mango orchard by a couple who raised him as their pet.
After the wedding the couple, chained till now, were released by their owners and took up residence in a nearby park.
Monkeys are considered holy by India’s majority Hindu community that associates them with the god Hanuman.
Millions of Indians visit Hanuman temples every Tuesday and anyone trying to trap or scare off monkeys is frequently beaten up or chased away.
Killing the animals is out of the question and most people believe feeding the animals is propitious.
story from monkeys in the news
WEll ROTD is officially, mind-numbingly, batter my head against a brick wall bored…and don’t go giving me that “only boring people get bored crap” because from the minute before and after I’m in this insipid landscape the world is a kaleidoscopic tunnel of brilliant insanity…
such is office life. So here’s a random list of things to do if you’re in need of some distraction from the insufferable torture of having nothing to do and still being confined to the inside of a hellish box of capitalist tedium…the best options I could find while attempting to browse my boredom away…
Bored things to do list…best options off the web (hey I’m bored…too bored to come up with stuff myself)
1. Stack items in cabinets so that they fall out on people when opened.
2. Move specific items to specific places everyday. (I.e. move the boss’ favorite pen from his desk to the floor every day if asked about it blame it on ghosts.)
3. See how many bathrooms you can defile in one day.
4. Make blow darts out of the plastic tips of your shoelaces a straight pin and a Bic pen.
5. Search e-Bay for illegal substances
6.Work on coming up with really good scams or practical jokes.
7. Go through people’s desks to see if you can find liquor in any of them. (drink what you find)
8. Digitally edit photos of monkeys to hold knives/swords
9. Create a fictional background of said photos including names and upbringings of said monkeys.
10. Create large scale fantastic delusions of grandeur.
11. Check for porn in the internet cache of people who leave their systems logged in.
12. Take revenge against people who you don’t like. For instance, tape an anchovy (or bombay duck) under their desk. Their office will smell like ass.
13.Try to make the longest paperclip chain, or largest rubber band ball.
14. Put a bootable Linux CD in your boss’ drive and watch him freak out the next morning.
15. Leave random voicemails for random people.
16.Come up with a plan of world domination.
17. Shoot down your own plans of world domination.
18. Try to find someplace where you can take a nap
19. Stick a thumb tack into the eraser on a pencil stand it on your desk, attempt to shoot rubber bands off of the ceiling and down around the pencil.
20. Super glue random objects together, use your imagination.
21. Change the speed dial on other peoples phones
22. Think about how fucked up you are going to get tonight.
23.Write a ridiculously long list of things to do while bored at work and post it online.
24. take an inane online quiz
25. Plan an ideal suicide.
I kid you not. This happened in May, 2001
Residents of the Indian capital, Delhi, are reported to be panicking after a series of attacks by mysterious creatures, described as “man-monkeys”.At least one person is said to have died and 35 others have been injured in attacks in recent days or while attempting to flee in panic.Shoot-on-sight orders have been issued to stop these monkey creatures. Police in one Delhi suburb say they have ordered officers to “shoot on sight” to halt the ape-like menace.
Indian newspaper reports described the creature as “short, dark and hairy, with human legs and an ape-like face”. It apparently scratched and attacked people sleeping on the roofs of their homes, during the scorching summer months. According to the Press Trust of India, Delhi police received 29 “distress calls” from the east and north-east parts of the capital on Monday night.
Police are now said to be preparing identification kits of the creatures which allegedly jump down from tall buildings and “sprint long distances in seconds”. “It is indeed intriguing how a human-being can jump down from multi-storey buildings and cover long distances within such a short space of time,” joint commissioner of police, Suresh Roy, said. Zoo officials have also been contacted to help the police investigate the attacks and patrols have been stepped up in areas where the “man-monkeys” are said to be operating. from the bbc.
Perhaps planet of the apes was not just a fairy tale?
Its Sunday…and time for browsing the worst of the worst…I can’t embed these clips so click the links to see:
Salman Rushie is attacked with lasers-from the epic film International Gorillay….here the “evil salman rushdie” gets zapped by some flying holy scriptures and gets shown what happens when one messes with THE BOOK
image from grooveking
Hanuman is the guy you ask for help when you need to get out of an impossible situation. He’s an ideas man/monkey and he knows the fastest way between two points often involves a bit of swinging from branches and scaling up buildings. “What idiot invented stairs anyway?” he says, “ Must have been a bureaucrat.” Hanuman has always been one of my favorite Gods. He occupies the liminal space between man and monkey, and as such, manages to solve problems without many of the constraints that human’s face. He is innovative (can’t find the right herb to save Laxman’s life? Why not bring him the whole mountain), mischievous (set my tail on fire? I’ll set your city on fire suckers), and the best of friends (sure I’ll fly over and find your woman, calm her down and tell her you’re coming to get her). So it isn’t all that surprising to discover that he’s the one (or rather his descendants) who inspired David Belle, an French guy “finding himself” in India, to invent a revolutionary sport called parkour.
image from here
Parkour, a made-up word, cousin to the French parcours, which means “route,” is a quasi commando system of leaps, vaults, rolls, and landings designed to help a person avoid or surmount whatever lies in his path—a vocabulary, that is, to be employed in finding one’s way among obstacles. Parkour goes over walls, not around them; it takes the stair rail, not the stairs. (I found a lot of references from the Great Ganesha. So check his site to read more)
It’s becoming a huge fad sport internationally, and has the appeal of being something that anyone, of any economic class can practice, given some patience and a good set of running shoes. A number of Indian kids are putting up clips on youtube and though some of their moves are a bit basic, they require a lot of strength to do and its cool that they’re starting out. A Desi Parkour group called “Team Mutants” has actually begun to master some more difficult moves and is worth checking out.
You can use trees, buildings, shopping mall interiors; basically any space you can get away with transforming into a gymnastic jungle. It appeals to me for reasons that and have to do with a crazy taxi cab driver I once knew in Pennsylvania, named Jimmy. Jimmy was actually a bit of a loon but like most loons he actually spoke a fair bit of sense if you could interpret his metaphors. He had become obsessed with traffic signals, signs, painted zebra crossings and codes of traffic conduct. He would say to me “You see that? See that? Its all about staying in the lines! The lines, man!” And for him, every u-turn, every highway, every instance on the road was a metaphor for how “the man” controls your movements through space.
image from road rage
Years later, standing in line at a multiplex cinema in Mumbai, I lean against a rail while waiting for a movie to start. A security guard swiftly approaches me waggling his finger “no. you aren’t allowed to lean on rails surrounding trees.” So I look for another perch; perhaps the cement space between two shop display windows. He chases me again “nope. Not allowed to lean there either.” Eventually I get so tired that I find a spot out of the way and squat on my haunches, like a good fisher-woman. “Nope!” comes the waggling finger. “You aren’t allowed to squat like a fisher-woman in upper middle class zones.” Hmmm…
Suddenly I’m feeling a bit less relaxed and a little more hostile towards the cinema. I pay good money to come to see a movie and yet not only do they expect my cash, fail to provide me with a place to sit and wait, but also hire this guy to chase me around in case I should happen to lean against their precious cement walls or rails. I feel kind of bad for the guard, in any case. It’s a job for him. And I can’t blame him for working for “the man.” I work for “the man” as well. And he must have to deal with a lot of irritated people every day, who always take out their anger on the messenger of the law.
But I digress. So I find something really appealing about the idea of a bunch of kids getting together to just jump over railings, do somersaults off of cement walls and scale multiplexes…because they can and because they’re fast enough to get away with it. It’s a sort of spatial revolt against the bureaucrat. It’s the body claiming space for itself and resisting becoming square shaped, like the little cement boxes that house us. Me likes.
Here’s an inspiring video of David Belle, the inventor of Parkour. He knows no gravity.
Here’s an excerpt from an interview with David Belle-talking about monkey inspiration. The rest is here.
I asked David why he had gone to India, and he said that he had friends there.
“How did you pass the time?”
“I just kept training,” he said. “I was training in the trees.” Jeff handed me a scrapbook with a photograph of David leaping from the limb of one tree to another. He was stretched flat out, horizontal to the ground, like Superman.
“I was at a waterfall one day,” David went on, “and there were huge trees all around, and in the trees were monkeys. There were fences and barriers around them, so they couldn’t get out, but I went around the barriers and played with the monkeys. After that, I watched them all the time, learning how they climbed. All the techniques in parkour are from watching the monkeys.”
He then showed us, on a computer, a documentary called “Warriors of the Monkey God.” It was about a tribe of monkeys who live on the rooftops of Jodhpur. The people regard the monkeys as holy. We watched them leaping from rooftop to rooftop and through the trees. The scene that made David smile was one in which numbers of them leaped onto, then off, a piece of corrugated tin that was loosely attached as a roof to some stakes. Their landings made the tin shake. Some of the monkeys were leaping from the ground, turning on their sides in the air, landing on the stakes and shoving off from them—a tic-tac.
Watching the movie, which was about forty-five minutes long, took only about fifteen minutes, because David kept advancing it to scenes of the monkeys in flight, looking exactly like traceurs. When it was finished, he said that after coming home he had just continued perfecting what he had learned from the monkeys. He had plans, he said, to make a movie with them.
image from accidentalblogger
I suppose what’s interesting is that the monkeys who live on rooftops in Jodhpur are respected as living incarnations of Hanuman, so perhaps they are given a little bit of space to swing their tails. In Delhi, although monkeys are the living gargoyles that populated old monuments and ruins, they are getting slowly chased out of parts of town where they used to hang from the trees and people used to drive by with bananas for them. I guess India “shining” doesn’t envisage a world with monkeys hanging about. We’ll have to dispose of the monkeys, the slums, the street vendors, etc., until one day we all wake up in glistening high rise buildings with glass exteriors and temperature controlled rooms filled with robot servants, pets, children and spouses. Ultimately humans will become a totally outdated phenomenon; a creature that was really far better suited to living in trees. Just a bunch of monkeys who forgot to jump, and who became inevitably outsourced by robots with better hygiene.
image of monkey toy robot from hasbro.com
But I really have nothing against robots, especially monkey robots, or robots that do kung fu or Parkour. Anyway, I’m probably completely romanticizing the whole phenomenon and its just like some kind of time pass that guys use to show off their skills to chicks. Or perhaps its the real deal. Either way, I like to daydream of small ruptures and revolts in monkey form.
image from air massive