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Today, Madagascar sucker-footed bats live nowhere outside their island home, but new research shows that hasn't always been the case. The discovery of two extinct relatives in northern Egypt suggests the unusual creatures, which evolved sticky footpads to roost on slick surfaces, are primitive members of a group of bats that evolved in Africa and ultimately went on to flourish in South America.A team of researchers described the two bat species from several sets of fossilized jawbones and teeth unearthed in the Sahara. The… read more about Sucker-footed Fossils Broaden the Bat Map »

The strength of a lemur couple's bond is reflected by the similarity of their scents, finds a new study."It's like singing a duet, but with smells instead of sounds," said Christine Drea, a Duke University professor who supervised the study.Duke researchers sampled and analyzed scent secretions produced by lemurs known as Coquerel's sifakas living at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham. The researchers also monitored the animals' scent-marking and sniffing behavior across the breeding season.They found that lemur lovers mirror… read more about Lemur Lovers Sync Their Scents »

When monkeys landed in South America 37 or more million years ago, the long-isolated continent already teemed with a menagerie of 30-foot snakes, giant armadillos and strange, hoofed mammals. Over time, the monkeys forged their own niches across the New World, evolved new forms and spread as far north as the Caribbean and as far south as Patagonia. Duke University evolutionary anthropologist Richard Kay applied decades' worth of data on geology, ancient climates and evolutionary relationships to uncover several patterns in… read more about Reconstructing the New World Monkey Family Tree »

PhD candidate Lauren Gonzales pictured in Patagonia, Argentina in 2013. She was there for fossil prospecting in Miocene-aged deposits along the Rio Santa Cruz. Gonzales studies the role of evolution in sensory anatomy in the major adaptive radiations of primates. Her fieldwork in Argentina is focused on improving the representation of early South American fossil primates. read more about Lauren Gonzales (PhD candidate) – Rio Santa Cruz, Patagonia, Argentina »

It's pretty hard to pin down Charlie Nunn when you ask him to describe his science. He calls himself a behavioral ecologist, but get him wound up and he starts to sound like an epidemiologist or a primatologist. He joins Duke this term as a professor of both evolutionary anthropology and global health.Nunn says his work fits in three big areas. Besides the evolution of sleep, he's interested in primate behavior and ecology, the work he started doing at Duke as a grad student with Carel Van Schaik. But most of his work… read more about Charles Nunn: The Big Picture on Human Health and Disease »

The last time Sheila Patek was at Duke, she was riding a unicycle across a parking lot to fulfill the infamous "circus trick" requirement for Steve Nowicki's Ph.D. students. Now 12 years later, she's back and heading up her own lab, where she studies the ocean-dwelling crustaceans, including one that throws one of nature's hardest punches.In her time away from Duke, she's headed labs at Berkeley and UMass-Amherst, given a TED talk (see below), appeared on TV and radio shows, had two children, and ridden thousands of miles… read more about Sheila Patek: Research With a Powerful Punch »

Lemurs from species that hang out in big tribes are more likely to steal food behind your back instead of in front of your face.  This behavior suggests that primates who live in larger social groups tend to have more "social intelligence," a new study shows. The results appear June 27 in PLOS ONE.A Duke University experiment tested whether living in larger social networks directly relates to higher social abilities in animals. Working with six different species of lemurs living at the Duke Lemur Center, a team of… read more about Social Animals Have More Social Smarts »

Professor Doug Boyer (left) and PhD candidate Gabe Yapuncich (right) teach stratigraphy to students during fieldwork in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming. Yapuncich’s doctoral research involves estimating the body masses of fossil primates and other early mammals that have been recovered from Paleocene and Eocene deposits in Wyoming and Montana. read more about Gabe Yapuncich (PhD candidate) – Wind River Canyon, Wyoming »

PhD candidate Gabe Yapuncich (in red shirt) gets a little exercise while reburying a Paleocene fossil mammal quarry in the Crazy Mountains Basin in Montana. Yapuncich’s doctoral research involves estimating the body masses of fossil primates and other early mammals that have been recovered from Paleocene and Eocene deposits in Wyoming and Montana. read more about Gabe Yapuncich (PhD candidate) – Crazy Mountains Basin, Montana »

Daniel Gonzalez-Socoloske (PhD, 2013) poses next to an Antillean manatee at San San Pond Sak Wildlife Refuge in Panama. This young female was the first, and so far only, manatee to be successfully captured and radio-tagged in Panama. Her movements were tracked by satellite for 45 days before the tag broke off. Gonzalez-Socoloske studied the foraging ecology of Antillean manatees for his doctoral research, and is actively engaged in the conservation of these marine mammals. read more about Daniel Gonzalez-Socoloske (PhD, 2013) – San San Pond Sak, Panama »

Scientists have identified two new species of mouse lemur, the saucer-eyed, teacup-sized primates native to the African island of Madagascar.The new study brings the number of recognized mouse lemur species to 20, making them the most diverse group of lemurs known. But because these shy, nocturnal primates look so much alike, it's only possible to tell them apart with genetic sequencing.The new mouse lemurs weigh 2.5 to 3 ounces (about 65 to 85 grams) and have grey-brown fur. "You can't really tell them apart just looking… read more about DNA Says Lemur Lookalikes Are Two New Species »