Two Million Years discussed on Ray Appleton


The timing of the enceladus discovery and also a couple of weeks ago there were more results reported from the curiosity rover on mars finding also very large complex organic molecules and it's interesting because the national academies of science engineering and medicine just put out a report saying that we need to be better about planetary protection and when most people here plan sherry protection they probably think of stopping a catastrophic asteroid impact or preventing an alien invasion but what this report was really focused on is protecting other planets specifically mars but you know just the rest of the solar system as we explore it making sure that we don't accidentally contaminated with earthly microbes you know especially as private industry gets into the space space exploration game they emphasized the need for sort of stricter guidelines and clear regulations to set up for potential human exploration because if you know once humans land on humans go to mars which you know spacex says it wants to do nasa says he wants to do by the twenty thirties you know we're probably going to bring our microbes with us and what we found from life on earth is that earth microbes are really good at colonizing new environments and so there's this worry that we might contaminate mars with our own life and then foul up the search for you know is there actual martian life out there or maybe there was billions of years ago so yes so it's important to do that before all these these other rockets not state actors get into space i i want to turn to your your next door here and this is really interesting so a group of monkeys that seems to have entered the stone age tell us about this yeah so you know on this island called he got her own off the coast of panama there'd been kind of this rumor that there were monkeys there that use stone tools some scientists at this massoni and reese tropical research institute in panama had heard about it and they finally went and investigated last year they set and camera traps and what they found kind of blew their minds these monkeys capetian monkeys ciba's cappuccinos there little sort of cat sized animals with white faces and long tails and they were actually taking large stone stones almost half the size of their body weight and smashing them down onto flat rocks and and logs and using that to crack open coconuts and other kinds of nuts hermit crabs snails and get up tasty morsels inside so this is a stone tool it's like a hammer and anvil that they're using to access food and that's exciting because this is only the fourth nonhuman primates species that's ever been observed with this kind of behavior using a stone tool and it could help scientists understand what causes a species to start picking up stones and using them as tools and also why our own set ancestors might have entered the stone age more than two million years ago but but it's just these monkeys in this one place other monkeys aren't doing this yeah that's the really weird thing is that the you know so this island is pretty big it's full of forests and its habit with monkeys and they're similar islands nearby that have the same species of monkey and yet the only only one group of cappuccinos was showing this behavior and actually the scientists tried leaving out some experimental rocks in other parts of the island to see if the monkeys might pick them up and start using them and the monkeys totally ignored them when they were not interested unless it was this one particular group and so that's a really strange thing because you would think that if this is an evolutionary advantageous behavior and that it helps them to sort of get more food and get more resources than the the behavior with spread especially because these captions are really fast learners they're very smart it actually sets up a really interesting scientific question allowing them to compare you know why does one group adopt while another group doesn't it's so interesting sarah kaplan science reporter at the washington post you joined us from washington today thank you so much for bringing us these stories yeah thank you after the break we're gonna talk about john wesley powell who was a nineteenth century explore who developed early ideas about climate science.

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