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博主胡德良:邢台学院外语系英语教授,中国译协专家会员,河北省译协常务理事,邢台市译协副会长。爱好翻译,内容涉及宇宙探秘、医疗卫生、家庭保健、生命科学、能源科学、地球科学、环境科学、散文小说和纪实文学等领域。所译文章曾见于《光明日报》《科技日报》《健康时报》《健康报》《英语世界》《英语知识》《科技英语学习》《科学之友》《科学与文化》《世界科学》《生命世界》等全国各大报刊。博客特色:英汉对照、图文并茂,融趣味性、科学性、知识性为一体。

无私地关照小猩猩(图)  

2010-02-03 09:44:28|  分类: 生命科学 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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无私地关照小猩猩(图) - 月亮飞船 - 欢迎光临月亮飞船的博客

不论走到哪里,弗雷迪都带着他收养的儿子——维克多。

Foster Care for Chimps

By Michael Balter  胡德良

 When Victor's mother died from anthrax, Fredy came along and adopted him. He shared his home with Victor every night, carried him on his back, and even gave him some of his precious food. Such altruistic behavior is one of the noblest attributes of our species. But Fredy and Victor aren't humans--they're chimps. A new study of these primates in the wild suggests that they are far more selfless than scientists have given them credit for, though some researchers have their doubts.

 维克多的妈妈死于炭疽热之后,弗雷迪前来收养了他,让他住在自己的家里,背着他行走,把自己一些最美味的食物送给他吃。这样的利他行为是我们人类最高贵的品质之一。然而,弗莱迪和维克多不是人类,他们是黑猩猩。尽管一些研究人员持有怀疑态度,但是对野生灵长类动物的一项新研究表明,这些动物比科学家们了解到的情况要无私得多。

 Researchers have seen evidence of altruistic-type behavior in several species, including marmosets, rats, and even ants. But it's unclear whether these behaviors fit the scientific definition of altruism: spontaneously helping others with no expectation of a reward.

 研究人员在好几种动物中看到过利他行为,这些动物包括狨猴、老鼠、甚至蚂蚁。但是这些行为是否符合对利他主义的科学定义,这一点尚不清楚。利他主义的科学定义是:主动地帮助其他人或动物,不求回报。

 Until very recently, scientists were hard put to detect altruistic behavior in chimps, at least in laboratory studies of captive animals. But with more refined experiments, that has started to change. In a 2007 study, for example, psychologist Michael Tomasello of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues put a chimp in a room with a clear view of tantalizing pieces of fruit locked behind a door. A second chimp was then presented with the opportunity to unlock the door, even though it would receive nothing for its trouble. Nearly 80% of the time, the second chimp did the right thing. But studies of chimps in captivity, where they are exposed to human behaviors, do not necessary reflect how they act in the real world.

 以前,科学家们很难发现黑猩猩的利他行为,至少在对囚禁动物的实验研究中是不易发现的。但是,随着实验的优化,这种局面开始转变。例如,在2007年的一项研究中,德国莱比锡市马普进化人类学研究所的心理学家迈克尔·托马塞罗把一只黑猩猩放在一个房间里,让它清楚地看到有几块令其垂涎的水果被锁在门外,然后给予另外一只黑猩猩打开房门的机会。即使第二只黑猩猩只有麻烦而得不到任何奖赏,它仍然能够在近80%的情况下做出正确的举动。但是,囚禁之中的黑猩猩能够接触到人类的行为,这些研究不一定能够反映它们在野外世界中的行动。

 So Tomasello's Max Planck colleague, primatologist Christophe Boesch, looked for evidence of altruism in the wild. For the past 3 decades, Boesch and his team have been watching the chimps living in Ta? National Park in the Cote d'Ivoire. The team has observed 18 cases of adult chimps adopting young chimps whose mothers had died. The researchers defined adoption to mean that an adult showed behavior toward an orphan for at least 2 months--such as sharing food and waiting for the youngster to catch up while traveling to a new location--that normally only mother chimps display toward their offspring.

 因此,托马塞罗的马普学会同事、灵长类动物学家克里斯托夫·博史寻找了野外世界中的利他主义证据。在过去的30年中,博史及同事观察了生活在塔伊国家公园(位于科特迪瓦)中的黑猩猩。研究小组观察到了18例成年黑猩猩收养死去母亲的小猩猩事件。研究人员将收养定义为:成年动物对失去生母的幼小动物表现出关爱行为,例如分享食物、去一个新地点的时候等着小动物赶上等,这些都是只有黑猩猩妈妈对她们的后代才表现出的行为,这种关爱至少要持续两个月。

 Ten of the 18 adoptions were by males, even though male chimps normally have little to do with their offspring. And in only one case was an adoptive male the father of the orphan. The duration of the adoptions varied from 3 months to more than 5 years, and the team found that taking care of the orphans was usually very costly in time and trouble for the adults. For example, on one occasion Fredy cracked open 196 Coula nuts, a favorite food at Ta?, and shared most of them with Victor. This sharing behavior between an adopter and an orphan is a clear sign of altruism, the researchers conclude online this week in PLoS One. Boesch says altruism may not show up as often in captivity because captive animals don't need to stick together to survive.

 尽管雄性黑猩猩通常并不关照自己的后代,在18例收养事件中有10例是由雄性收养的,只有一个收养小猩猩的雄性正好是其生父,收养期限从三个月到5年不等。研究人员发现,对于成年猩猩来说,照料失去生母的小猩猩通常既麻烦又非常耗时。例如,有一次弗雷迪敲开了196个柯拉果,并且把其中的绝大多数分给维克多吃,而这是塔伊国家公园最美味的食品。本周,研究人员在《公共科学图书馆·综合》在线版上总结道:在动物养父与动物孤儿之间的这种分享行为是明显的利他主义标志。博史说,囚禁中的动物可能不会这样频繁地表现出利他主义,因为它们不必团结在一道就可以生存下去。

 Experts are hesitant to endorse the team's conclusions. Joan Silk, an anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, says that there is "no doubt" that chimps engage in altruistic behavior in the wild. But it "remains unresolved," she says, whether they do so out of true concern for others or because they eventually expect some sort of payoff, such as gaining grooming partners or allies in chimp social wars. And Derek Penn, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, says that 18 adoptions over 27 years of observations, some of which involved brothers and sisters, does not amount to hard evidence for altruism. Rather than selfless behavior, he says, the adoptions could be the result of adults mistaking the young chimps for their own offspring.

 专家们对该研究小组的结论有些怀疑。加州大学洛杉矶分校的人类学家琼·西尔克说,无疑黑猩猩在野外环境中参与了利他行为。但是,她说,有个问题仍然悬而未决:它们这么做是真正地关心其他动物吗?或者,它们是否为了最终得到某种回报,如得到伴侣或者在猩猩打群架时获得联盟,才这么做的呢?路易斯安那大学拉法耶特分校的认知心理学家德里克·佩恩说,在27年中观察到了18例收养,其中有些涉及同胞兄弟姐妹的关系,这算不上利他主义的有力证据。他说,也许根本不是无私的行为,而是成年黑猩猩错误地将小猩猩当成了自己的后代。

译自:美国《科学》杂志网站(29 January 2010

原著:Michael Balter

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