by Staff Writers
Edinburgh UK (SPX) Jul 01, 2011
New research has shown that happier orang-utans live longer which may shed light on the evolution of happiness in humans. Dr. Alexander Weiss and colleagues at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Arizona, who are presenting their paper published in Royal Society journal Biology Letters at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Conference in Glasgow on Sunday the 3rd of July, used an innovative approach to assessing happiness by asking keepers who work with orang-utans to answer questions on the animals' behalf.
The keepers were asked how often the orang-utan was in a good mood as opposed to a bad mood, how much it enjoyed social interactions and whether it was effective at achieving its goals. The keepers were also asked to speculate as to how happy they would be if they were the animal in question.
Of the 184 orang-utans included in the study those which were scored as happier by their keepers were significantly more likely to be alive up to seven years later. The effect remained even when factors such as sex, age and species were taken into account.
The Evolution of Happiness
One theory of how happiness evolved is sexual selection; a happier individual might be more attractive to the opposite sex because they are likely to live longer, and vice versa. Dr. Weiss suggests that in the future other researchers might look to dating websites for information, to discover whether the profiles of individuals who rate themselves as happier are more popular.
Although happiness has been linked to longer life in humans, and now orang-utans, the basis for this is not well-understood. Dr. Weiss says: "It is unlikely that happiness causes longer life, the association is almost certainly more complex." The next step for scientists in understanding the importance of happiness in the lives of orang-utans will be to assess whether happiness and health are governed by the same genes.
Animal Welfare Applications
Using simple questions like those in the current study would provide an efficient, low cost method of assessing the well being of orang-utans in zoos all over the world. Monitoring orang-utan health and well being in this way will help, says Dr Weiss "to ensure that orang-utans too live 'happily ever after'"
Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.
First large-scale study into bird capture technique evaluates the risks
London, UK (SPX) Jul 01, 2011
Capturing birds using mist nets to study behaviour, movement or the demographics of a species is one of the most common research techniques in ornithology, yet until now there have been no large scale studies into the risks mist nets pose to birds. Writing in the British Ecological Society's Methods in Ecology and Evolution researchers from California used a dataset of over 345,000 records ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|