Why scientists are rushing to save Monkey Island in Puerto Rico

CAYO SANTIAGO, Puerto Rico — As hundreds of troops and authorities staff wrestle to revive regular life to Puerto Rico, a small group of scientists is racing to save lots of greater than 1,000 monkeys whose brains might include clues to a number of the most necessary mysteries of the human thoughts.

One of many first locations Hurricane Maria hit within the US territory Sept. 20 was Cayo Santiago, generally known as Monkey Island, a forty-acre outcropping off the east coast that is among the world’s most essential websites for analysis into how primates assume, socialize and evolve.

The storm destroyed nearly every little thing on the island, stripping it of vegetation, wrecking the monkeys’ metallic consuming troughs and crushing the piers that College of Puerto Rico staff use to usher in luggage of monkey chow — brown pellets of processed meals that full the primates’ pure vegetation food plan.

“All of our instruments have been destroyed,” stated Angelina Ruiz Lambides, the director of the Cayo Santiago facility. “Does FEMA cowl this? Does the college’s insurance coverage cowl this? I don’t know.”

The island’s historical past as a analysis middle dates to 1938, when the person often known as the daddy of American primate science introduced a inhabitants of Indian rhesus macaques to america. Clarence Ray Carpenter needed a spot with the right mixture of isolation and free vary, the place the monkeys might be studied dwelling a lot as they do in nature with out the difficulties of monitoring them via the wild.

A feminine monkey carries her child on her again on Cayo Santiago.AP

Since then the four hundred or so macaques have reproduced and expanded their numbers, turning into the world’s most studied free-ranging primate inhabitants and one thing of a dwelling library.

Each animal born on the island is tattooed for straightforward identification, and the skeleton of each one which has died over 9 generations has been saved for future reference. About one hundred have had their whole genetic make-up sequenced, and lots of extra have had no less than a few of their DNA analyzed.

Scientists return to land from Cayo Santiago the place they hope to rescue its inhabitants.AP

Researchers from Yale, the College of Pennsylvania, New York College and others have been spending a lot of the yr on the island learning every part from the monkeys’ eye actions to the genes and conduct of socially aberrant people which will present perception into the causes of autism.

“It’s utterly unprecedented in its breadth and measurement,” stated James Higham,…

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