Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The First Advertising Campaign Made for Monkeys
Advertising execs and scientists are experimenting with ads designed specifically to target capuchin monkeys like these.

(Fox News) A team of scientists and advertising executives unveiled the first ever advertising campaign tailor-made for monkeys at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival.

The two New York ad execs, Keith Olwell and Elizabeth Kiehner, were inspired by a TED talk by Laurie Santos, a Yale University primatologist who uses monkeys to study the human mind. Through Santos, Olwell and Kiehner learned that captive monkeys understand money and even behave like humans when placed in economic situations.

The next step was obvious: monkey advertising.

Owell and Kiehner quickly teamed up with Santos -- a collaboration with Yale University and Proton Studio -- with the ultimate goal of seeing whether they could influence monkey behavior with advertising, specifically providing the monkeys with two foods, one ad supported and the other not.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, advertising for monkeys isn’t all that different than ads for us: it involved a billboard campaign.

The team placed ads outside the monkey enclosures for a period of time, at which point the monkeys will be offered a choice of two foods. “The foods will be novel to them and are equally delicious,’ Olwell told New Scientist.

The experiment will also be used as an opportunity to test one of marketing’s oldest maxims -- sex sells.

And since the monkeys have limited (if any) language and culture and an extremely short attention span, sex was the obvious high impact option, one that easily spoke across species.

According to New Scientist, one of the billboards displayed a graphic shot of a female monkey with exposed genitals. Another -- part of the same campaign -- displayed an alpha male.

Olwell already has a hypothesis on which campaign will be more successful.

“Monkeys have shown in previous studies to really love photographs of alpha males and shots of genitals, and we think this will drive their purchasing habits," he said.

The team hopes to begin the experimental campaign in the coming weeks.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Surveillance video released of monkey chase in Fremont

New details have been released in the bizarre story of the monkey that was on the run in Fremont. Friday, police released surveillance video of the monkey chase that took place earlier this month. 

One of the police officers involved in the search laughs about it now that everyone's okay, saying he was never trained to chase a monkey. You may wonder how can someone have a monkey as a pet. It turns out, in Fremont, there is no law against having an exotic animal.

Surveillance video of the monkey on the loose shows it running through the Fremont Police Station parking lot. Sgt. Anthony Emrich says, "Just when you think you've seen everything in the city. In Fremont, I've seen some weird and unusual things, but I've never seen wayward monkeys jumping out of trees and attacking people."

Two weeks ago, a monkey escaped from its Fremont home and ran all over the community for about two hours. "A group of men approached me and said, 'You might want to take your kids and get in the house. There's a monkey on the loose.' I'm like, 'What? A monkey?'" says Melissa Tucker.

Ten-year-old Alaysia Liggins says, "I was running this way to try to go in the garage and then I turned around and looked and I tripped. Then the monkey was on my head and it jumped on her leg. It was kind of holding onto her and scratched her leg."

Cecilia Pinkston is the owner of the monkey. She lives on the 1200 block of Hickory Street. We spoke with her over the phone. Pinkston says her monkey named Ronnie has never before caused any trouble at all. He rarely even goes outside. But she does say she is pretty upset that a police officer fired two shots at her monkey."

Sgt. Emrich says, "At this particular stage, this monkey had attacked three people. We realized that this was a danger to the community. We have a right and we have an obligation to protect these people in Fremont, so we took drastic measures."

The officer missed the monkey. Ronnie ended up making his way back home. Many residents, even the mother of one of the kids who was attacked, say they don't mind the monkey in their community.

"I don't see anything wrong with it. They take care of it. It just happened to get out. It'd be if the dog got out and ran through the neighborhood scaring kids," says Vicki Mankin.

Pinkston will pay the maximum $150 fine, plus court costs after she was convicted of a charge of "Animals Running at Large." Pinkston told a judge she plans to sell the animal to someone outside the area soon. Until that happens, the judge has ordered her to secure the animal.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Frog Secretions May Treat Diabetes, Cancer

(Fox News) Scientists in Ireland accidentally discovered that frog secretions could potentially treat up to 70 diseases including cancer and diabetes, The Daily Mail reported.

The scientists, from Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland, were doing research on the waxy monkey frog, which hails from South America, when they found proteins in its skin secretions hold properties that can control the growth of blood vessels. This is known as angiogenesis.

“By switching off angiogenesis and inhibiting blood vessel growth, a protein from the waxy monkey frog has the potential to kill cancer tumors,” said Professor Chris Shaw of Queen’s University. “Most cancer tumors can only grow to a certain size before they need blood vessels to grow into the tumor to supply it with vital oxygen and nutrients. Stopping the blood vessels from growing will make the tumor less likely to spread and may eventually kill it.”

Shaw said the researchers found that secretions from the giant firebellied toad – which is native to China and Viet Nam – actually stimulates blood vessel growth, and this could treat conditions like diabetic ulcers, strokes and repair wounds.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

When watermelons attack: Chinese farmers caught off guard by exploding crop

  May 17, 2011 – 1:46 PM ET | Last Updated: May 17, 2011 4:46 PM ET
(National Post) It was supposed to be a typical watermelon crop, or at least that’s what 20 Chinese farmers were expecting. Instead, they watched in horror as their fields of fruit began exploding like “landmines,” according to The Guardian. This is why it is important to read the instructions while working with plant biotechnology.

The group of farmers decided to use a chemical spray known as forchlorfenuron, a plant growth accelerator that is normally used on grapes and kiwi fruit in the United States. To put it simply — the plant compound stimulates lateral growth within the fruit, and can also make it firmer and last longer.

However, the Chinese farmers sprayed their watermelon too late in the growing season and during wet conditions — two big no-nos when it comes to using the popular growth regulator. While they were hoping to see a 20% increase in growth to their crop, the overuse of chemicals caused the watermelons to explode instead. It didn’t help that the farmers, who had never used the drug before, were using thin-rind melons — which are known for splitting as they ripen. Forchlorfenuron is also not really meant for watermelons, but for smaller fruit.

According to China’s central broadcaster, CCTV, one farmer estimated at least three acres of his crop had exploded. In total, it is believed 115 acres of watermelon were blown apart.

While the watermelon crisis is seems almost trivial compared to the messy regulation of farming practices in China, scientists in the area say that the fruit is not dangerous — besides a bit of stomach irritation if ingested.

“In general we don’t suggest chemicals with plant hormones be used on watermelons, as they are very sensitive. They might end up looking very strange and people will not want to buy them,” Cui Jian, director of the vegetable research institute at Qingdao Academy of Agricultural Science told The Guardian. “The taste won’t be as good and storage is more difficult, but it should not harm anyone’s health.”

Where are the “landmines” now? The farmers fed the aftermath to pigs.