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Study suggests gorillas form social bonds with distant relations
(findings suggest that human social systems stretch back to the common ancestor of humans and gorillas
Gorillas found to interact with extended family in a similar way to humans

Gorillas form social bonds with distant relations in a similar way to humans, new research suggests.

The study led by the University of Cambridge found “social tiers with striking parallels to traditional human societies”.

Their findings suggest that human social systems stretch back to the common ancestor of humans and gorillas, rather than arising from the "social brain" of hominins after diverging from other primates.

In the study, researchers used more than six years of data from two research sites in the Republic of Congo where they documented the social exchanges of hundreds of Western lowland gorillas.

Gorillas live in small family units consisting of a dominant male and several females with offspring, or as solitary male “bachelors”. Lead author Dr Robin Morrison used statistical algorithms to reveal patterns of interaction between family groups and individuals between data sets.

By analysing the frequency and length of “associations”, she found that beyond immediate family there was a tier of regular interaction - an average of 13 gorillas - that is similar to “dispersed extended family” in traditional human societies. For example aunts, cousins and grandparents.

Beyond that, a further tier of association involved an average of 39 gorillas, similar to an “aggregated group” that spends time together without necessarily being closely related.

"An analogy to early human populations might be a tribe or small settlement, like a village," said Morrison.

She also found that where dominant males (silverbacks) were half-siblings, they were more likely to be in the same “tribe”. More than 80 per cent of the close associations identified, however, were between more distantly related-or even apparently unrelated silverbacks.

"Females spend time in multiple groups throughout their lives, making it possible for males not closely related to grow up in the same natal group, similar to step-brothers," said Morrison. "The bonds that form may lead to these associations we see as adults."

The results are published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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New York to ban sale of foie gras

News Story 1
 New York City councillors have voted overwhelmingly in favour of legislation that will see the ban of foie gras in the city. The move, which comes in response to animal cruelty concerns, will take effect in 2022.


 Councillor Carlina Rivera, who sponsored the legislation, told the New York Times that her bill “tackles the most inhumane process” in the commercial food industry. “This is one of the most violent practices, and it’s done for a purely luxury product,” she said.


 Foie gras is a food product made of the liver of a goose or duck that has been fattened, often by force-feeding. New York City is one of America’s largest markets for the product, with around 1,000 restaurants currently offering it on their menu. 

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Humane Slaughter Association student scholarships open for applications

Applications for the Humane Slaughter Association’s student/trainee Dorothy Sidley Memorial Scholarships are now open.

The Scholarships provide funding to enable students or trainees in the industry to undertake a project aimed at improving the welfare of food animals during marketing, transport and slaughter. The project may be carried out as an integral part of a student's coursework over an academic year, or during the summer break.

The deadline for applications is midnight on the 28 February 2020. To apply and for further information visit www.hsa.org.uk/grants or contact the HSA office.