91 episodes

The PrimateCast features conversations with renowned primatologists, wildlife scientists, conservationists and other professional animal enthusiasts about the processes and products of their work. The PrimateCast is hosted and produced by Dr. Andrew MacIntosh of Kyoto University's Wildlife Research Center and is brought to you by the Center for International Collaboration and Advanced Studies in Primatology (CICASP), based at Kyoto University's Center for the Evolutionary Origins of Human Behavior.

The PrimateCast Andrew MacIntosh

    • Science
    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings

The PrimateCast features conversations with renowned primatologists, wildlife scientists, conservationists and other professional animal enthusiasts about the processes and products of their work. The PrimateCast is hosted and produced by Dr. Andrew MacIntosh of Kyoto University's Wildlife Research Center and is brought to you by the Center for International Collaboration and Advanced Studies in Primatology (CICASP), based at Kyoto University's Center for the Evolutionary Origins of Human Behavior.

    From Cacophony to Symphony: The Harmonious Interplay of Animal Cognition and Communication with Dr. Tecumseh Fitch

    From Cacophony to Symphony: The Harmonious Interplay of Animal Cognition and Communication with Dr. Tecumseh Fitch

    In today’s installment of the podcast, I’m really excited to share a fascinating conversation I had with Dr. Tecumseh Fitch about the evolution of cognition and communication.

    Tecumseh Fitch is Professor of Cognitive Biology at the University of Vienna where he co-founded the Department of Cognitive Biology and plays a leading role in the radically interdisciplinary Vienna Cognitive Science Hub, where they gather biologists, psychologists, neuroscientists, and computer scientists, and mix them with linguists, philosophers and musicologists to really understand cognition and communication in its broadest sense.

    But more than that, Tecumseh Fitch is an icon in the fields of cognitive biology and language evolution - he literally wrote the textbook on the The Evolution of Language. His mastery of these topics are on full display in this conversation, as are his storytelling skills.

    “one way of seeing cognitive science is it’s the triumph of mentalism over behaviorism” (Tecumseh Fitch)

    We ended up with a rich tapestry of insights into how language and cognition evolved, how they shape the lives of animals across the spectrum - from bees to naked mole rats to chimpanzees - and how they’ve set the scene for our own human experience.

    So, if you want to hear us meander from American Civil War generals to the question of why dogs can’t dance, or find out why macaques could anatomically ask questions like “will you marry me” but to my knowledge are not known to have ever done so, then stick around for the next hour plus and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

    Other topics in this interview include:
    call production (vocal) learningHoover the Talking Sealthe evolution of musicality, singing and rhythmicitygreat ape language projectsAI and animal communicationOn Darwin and why it has taken so long to accept the idea of animal mindsGeneral William Tecumseh Sherman and Tecumseh Sherman Fitch II always learn a lot through the conversations I have for The PrimateCast, but I gotta say that this one had me cognitively locked in. I hope it does the same for you. 

    Related episodes: 
    (#72) A conversation about what music means to us, and monkeys, with Dr. Charles (Chuck) Snowdon(#23) Conversations about Communication from the 74th Annual Congress of the Japan Society for Animal Psychology.The PrimateCast is hosted and produced by Andrew MacIntosh. Artwork by Chris Martin. Music by Andre Goncalves. Credits by Kasia Majewski.
    Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter Subscribe where you get your podcasts Email theprimatecast@gmail.com with thoughts and comments Consider sending us an email or reaching out on social media to give us your thoughts on this and any other interview in the series. We're always happy to hear from you and hope to continue improving our podcast format based on your comments and suggestions.
    A podcast from Kyoto University and CICASP.

    • 1 hr 7 min
    Unraveling the Secrets of Cold Adaptation and Hybridization in Primates with Evolutionary Anthropologist Dr. Laura Buck

    Unraveling the Secrets of Cold Adaptation and Hybridization in Primates with Evolutionary Anthropologist Dr. Laura Buck

    For this episode, I sat down in the studio with evolutionary anthropologist Dr. Laura Buck in the Research Centre for Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology of Liverpool John Moores University.

    Dr. Susumu Tomiya of CICASP also joined the conversation.

    After waxing on the plausibility that some ancient hominins in cold climates might have hibernated - spoiler alert! Not very - Laura describes the evolutionary and developmental processes that lead to adaptations and behavioral responses to the cold.

    We talk about human cold adaptation and how they relate to those of Neanderthals, and how patterns emerge to help species thrive in thermally-inhospitable places.

    Laura describes her current research, and how scientists might have overlooked a potentially critical evolutionary force among mammals: hybridisation.

    We touch on the idea of genetic rescue for conservation, and whether the "grolar bear", a hybrid between grizzlies and polar bears, might - and that’s a controversial might! -  might allow polar bear genes to survive climate warming in the arctic.

    Laura’s work on hybridisation has focused on macaques, but she argues that what we learn from studying hybrid macaque bones can help us understand many of the mysteries of evolution.

    She touches on the modern techniques used in geometric morphometrics - simply put, measuring bones in cool ways to understand evolutionary processes - including the future role of AI in the process. 

    Laura closes with the idea of niche construction, where it’s not only how we and other species adapt to the environments around us, but also how we change those environments ourselves, leading to the conclusion that in many ways we are responsible for our own environments of evolutionary adaptedness.

    Other topics covered in the interview:
    Non-adaptationist explanations and just-so stories in human evolutionFieldwork fails with technology in scanning and measuring bonesNasal air conditioningclimate adaptations comparing prehistoric humans in Japan with Japanese macaquesHybridization and evolution of the primate pelvisAs the Northern hemisphere gears up for the winter, remember that we all have some physical and many behavioral adaptations to the cold. 

    But, if you’re unsure, hey, maybe you can just hibernate…
    The PrimateCast is hosted and produced by Andrew MacIntosh. Artwork by Chris Martin. Music by Andre Goncalves. Credits by Kasia Majewski.
    Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter Subscribe where you get your podcasts Email theprimatecast@gmail.com with thoughts and comments Consider sending us an email or reaching out on social media to give us your thoughts on this and any other interview in the series. We're always happy to hear from you and hope to continue improving our podcast format based on your comments and suggestions.
    A podcast from Kyoto University and CICASP.

    • 1 hr 19 min
    Exploring Human-Primate Coexistence with Dr. Paula Pebsworth: A Journey from the Vineyards of Napa Valley to the Wilds of Africa, Asia and Beyond

    Exploring Human-Primate Coexistence with Dr. Paula Pebsworth: A Journey from the Vineyards of Napa Valley to the Wilds of Africa, Asia and Beyond

    In today’s lecture, Dr. Paula Pebsworth joined us from her home in Texas to give a lecture titled “You never know where life will take you: an interdisciplinary and unconventional path”.

    This lecture was extra special for me, because Paula and I were grad students together at Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute over a decade ago, both under the supervision of Mike Huffman. I’ve missed my friend over the intervening years, along with her family - who also play a feature role in her talk - so it was wonderful getting back together for this event.

    Apart from the normal dose of nostalgia that such reunions can bring, I was reminded of what we lost when the Primate Research Institute was restructured in the spring of 2022 - a place where minds met and grew together, where budding and rooted primatologists alike were mixed and incubated and sent off to do amazing things wherever life after PRI took them.

    And what an interesting life Paula has had, both before and after her time in Japan. Paula is an independent scientist who has had professional roles as a Research Coordinator for Wildcliff Nature Reserve in South Africa, a Post-doctoral Research Associate and adjunct associate at the National Institute of Adv. Studies in Bangalore, India, a Scientific Coordinator at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve in Costa Rica, and a head scientist for an environmental consulting firm in Saudi Arabia.

    Through it all, she has worked toward tackling the monumental challenge of managing human-nonhuman primate conflict and coexistence, the topic she spends most of the lecture covering in tantalizing detail.

    But would you imagine that she started out her professional career as a chemist testing wine in the California vineyards? It doesn’t seem obvious, but Paula manages to weave this background into her studies of antiparasite strategies and self-medication in chimpanzees and baboons.

    And no, she wasn’t getting her subjects drunk on wine! But you’ll have to stay tuned to find out how it all makes sense in the career of this thoughtful and innovative primatologist.

    Now, Paula is just about to pack up and head over to Japan herself in a few days, for an event where she’ll be speaking about human-nonhuman primate coexistence at Kyoto University. I can’t wait to meet up with her there and catch up.

    Paula has also agreed to follow this lecture up with a proper conversation for the primateCast, so stay tuned for part two in the near future. I took a lot of notes during her lecture and have a lot of things to follow up on.
    The PrimateCast is hosted and produced by Andrew MacIntosh. Artwork by Chris Martin. Music by Andre Goncalves. Credits by Kasia Majewski.
    Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter Subscribe where you get your podcasts Email theprimatecast@gmail.com with thoughts and comments Consider sending us an email or reaching out on social media to give us your thoughts on this and any other interview in the series. We're always happy to hear from you and hope to continue improving our podcast format based on your comments and suggestions.
    A podcast from Kyoto University and CICASP.

    • 49 min
    Change: Primate Populations in an Anthropogenic World with Primatologist and Conservation Biologist Dr. Colin Chapman

    Change: Primate Populations in an Anthropogenic World with Primatologist and Conservation Biologist Dr. Colin Chapman

    In today’s origin story, Dr. Colin Chapman joined us over Zoom from his home on Vancouver Island to talk about, quote, “A Few Fun Things I have Learned Studying Primates". 

    Colin Chapman has a whole bunch of titles that are worth a quick once over: he is a Killam Research Fellow, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a fellow at Humboldt Foundation, a Wilson Fellow, holds an Office of an Academician, Northwest University, Xi’an, China and is a Conservation Fellow with the Wildlife Conservation Society. He’s also received a humanitarian award from the Velan Foundation.

    Colin recently moved to Vancouver Island University to spend more time on his conservation efforts in and around Kibale National Park Uganda, where he’s spent so many of his years as one of the world’s most prominent primatologists.

    In the lecture to follow, Colin unpacks what he’s learned about primate population dynamics over 34 plus years at Kibale. He talks about deforestation, bushmeat hunting and climate change, and importantly how research can allow us to make predictions about how these anthropogenic threats might affect primates in the future. 

    Colin closes with a series of take home messages like how it’s ok to make mistakes along the way, how scientists in more developed nations should use our privilege to focus on capacity building to support researchers in less fortunate circumstances, and why making sure to have fun is the key to longevity as a researcher. 

    Other topics that come up include:
    health and conservation and the mobile health clinic he spearheaded to support  local communities in Ugandahow primate foraging might actually make the food landscape worse for themselves over timehow colobus biomass is tightly linked to plant food qualitywhile at the same time global change can lead to declines in food quality (paywall) for those very same primatesyet their populations may not suffer the dramatic losses we expectFor anyone interested in hearing more from Colin, he was also on the podcast in Episode 39, where I asked him to reflect on then 26 years of research and conservation at Kibale.

    We hope you enjoy this take from one of the world's leading primate scientists!
    The PrimateCast is hosted and produced by Andrew MacIntosh. Artwork by Chris Martin. Music by Andre Goncalves. Credits by Kasia Majewski.
    Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter Subscribe where you get your podcasts Email theprimatecast@gmail.com with thoughts and comments Consider sending us an email or reaching out on social media to give us your thoughts on this and any other interview in the series. We're always happy to hear from you and hope to continue improving our podcast format based on your comments and suggestions.
    A podcast from Kyoto University and CICASP.

    • 35 min
    Understanding the Ins and Outs of Tool Use in Capuchin Monkeys with Professor Patricia Izar

    Understanding the Ins and Outs of Tool Use in Capuchin Monkeys with Professor Patricia Izar

    In this episode of The PrimateCast origins, we’re sharing a lecture from primatologist and cognitive ethologist, Patricia Izar from the University of São Paulo.

    Pat is one of the eminent Latin American primatologists, and along with her close friends and colleagues Drs. Dorothy Fragaszy and Elisabetta Visalberghi - see episode #68 for more on this from Elisabetta Visalberghi - she’s been studying the incredible tool use behavior of robust capuchins for the past few decades.

    Capuchins are one of the very few non-great ape primates that are known to commonly use tools in nature - they use stones and anvils to crack open tough nuts and aquatic invertebrates (Paywall).

    Pat walks us through a series of fascinating experiments with these charismatic monkeys - who by the way you can hear make a series of audio-only cameos in the background while she shows our Zoom audience some videos. Her target? Trying to understand what they know about the tools they use and what benefits they gain from using them.

    Check out a short documentary about the EthoCebus project, of which Pat is a key member.

    Because of her long history of observing and experimenting with wild capuchins, she challenges the idea from laboratory experiments with captive-reared individuals that capuchins don’t  understand how or why the tools they use work; a commonly held belief that, unlike humans, monkeys don’t really have a strong sense of the ‘folk physics’ underlying their behavior.

    Other topics that come up:
    selecting the best tools to use what environmental factors affect when and how capuchins use toolshow using tools might affect social relationshipsthe nutritional benefits of tool use in different seasonsHave you ever wondered how heavy those stones are?playing with perception by providing huge stones that are light as a featherPat ends by talking about how this iconic behavior in capuchins can tell us a lot about the evolution of tool use in humans. By studying animals like capuchins, we can learn a lot about the kinds of conditions that are likely to have fostered this cognitively demanding behavior during our evolution.

    Although she doesn’t mention it in the lecture, Pat is also a key figure in the profession and development of primatology, both locally in Brazil and internationally. She is currently the President of the Brazilian Society of Primatology, and serves the International Primatological Society as its VP for Education.
    The PrimateCast is hosted and produced by Andrew MacIntosh. Artwork by Chris Martin. Music by Andre Goncalves. Credits by Kasia Majewski.
    Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter Subscribe where you get your podcasts Email theprimatecast@gmail.com with thoughts and comments Consider sending us an email or reaching out on social media to give us your thoughts on this and any other interview in the series. We're always happy to hear from you and hope to continue improving our podcast format based on your comments and suggestions.
    A podcast from Kyoto University and CICASP.

    • 50 min
    Exploring Comparative Primate Cognition with Dr. Reggie Gazes and Dr. Ikuma Adachi

    Exploring Comparative Primate Cognition with Dr. Reggie Gazes and Dr. Ikuma Adachi

    In this episode, comparative cognitive scientist Dr. Reggie Gazes and my office neighbor Dr. Ikuma Adachi.

    Reggie is an associate professor of psychology and animal behavior at Bucknell University in Lewisburg Pennsylvania. She and Ikuma overlapped as trainees in the lab of Dr. Robert Hampton at the now-named Emory National Primate Research Center.

    Listen to Rob in episode 20 of the podcast on mental time travel and metacognition.

    In the interview here, we find out how her experiences in Rob’s lab translated into Reggie’s own approach to being a teacher-scholar at Bucknell University.

    Since a large part of what Reggie does involves engaging, supporting and doing research alongside undergraduate students, I thought it fitting to ask for their input in designing the interview, which can be thought of as a sort of collaboration with them.

    Along with Reggie riffing on Bunny the dog, teaching students like she trains her monkeys, and - spoiler alert! - why she won’t go to karaoke with her students, we talk at length about the nuts and bolts of doing comparative cognitive science, and particularly in the context of animals in social groups.

    Some key studies done by Reggie and her lab mates that are a great primer for this conversation include her work on factors influencing touchscreen work in rhesus macaques and how social networks predict learning outcomes in capuchins. 

    She really gets across in our conversation just how important it is to consider the rich social lives of animals when trying to design cognitive tests and understand how they think and why.

    These are the kinds of things that would really matter to individual primates living under natural conditions, so it was great hearing Reggie’s thoughts on how this type of cognitive experimentation was gaining more and more traction, despite its many challenges!

    Other topics covered in the interview:
    TikTok's Bunny the dogpeanut butter sandwichesmentorship and role modelsteaching and scholarshipimposter syndrome and the importance of collaborationFor more on Reggie Gazes and the 'Awesomeness' of her work, check out the Comparative Cognition & Behavior at Bucknell lab. 
    The PrimateCast is hosted and produced by Andrew MacIntosh. Artwork by Chris Martin. Music by Andre Goncalves. Credits by Kasia Majewski.
    Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter Subscribe where you get your podcasts Email theprimatecast@gmail.com with thoughts and comments Consider sending us an email or reaching out on social media to give us your thoughts on this and any other interview in the series. We're always happy to hear from you and hope to continue improving our podcast format based on your comments and suggestions.
    A podcast from Kyoto University and CICASP.

    • 1 hr 2 min

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