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Fields to Direct Bonobo Research at Great Ape Trust

DES MOINES, Iowa, Jun. 29 - /EWire/ -- Officials with Great Ape Trust of Iowa announced today that William M. Fields, one of only two scientists in the world to conduct language research with bonobos, has been named director of bonobo research. Great Ape Trust is a scientific research center in Des Moines dedicated to the study of the origins and future of culture, language, tools and intelligence. In his new position, Fields will oversee the daily operations of the bonobo laboratory and staff, coordinate research activities with leading scientists throughout the United States and around the world, and assist with the development of educational opportunities with The Trust's academic partners. Fields assumes the operations of the bonobo facility from Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, who will concentrate on her next book about her co-rearing studies with a bonobo and chimpanzee. "These new responsibilities for Sue and Bill reflect the growth in Great Ape Trust's scientific foundation. Bill has earned this appointment through years of experience and leadership at the forefront of cognitive research, while it's important that Sue has the flexibility to devote her scientific efforts to publishing her remarkable and extensive insights into the development of the mind," said Ted Townsend, founder and chairman of Great Ape Trust. "As The Trust's academic affiliations multiply, they each remain fully committed to advancing science and nurturing the next generation of professional primatologists." Fields, a native of Atlanta, Ga., joined Great Ape Trust in 2005 when a colony of eight bonobos was transferred to Iowa from the Language Research Center at Georgia State University. As director of bonobo research at Great Ape Trust, Fields succeeds Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, with whom he collaborated at the Language Research Center for seven years. Fields is determined to continue the scientific trajectories of Savage-Rumbaugh and Dr. Duane Rumbaugh, co-founder of the Language Research Center and scientist emeritus at Great Ape Trust. Additionally, Fields is committed to developing an institutional structure dedicated to a transdisciplinary approach. Fields said the importance of this research cannot be overstated. "If Kanzi, a non-human primate, is able to acquire the kinds of competencies that characterize his performance in the laboratory - to possess receptive competence for spoken English coupled with production of visual symbols - then the comparative implication for human development is dramatically significant," he said. "It speaks to a future of a democracy of human brilliance spread across the many rather than a few." Fields is co-author of a number of scientific publications including Kanzi's Primal Language: The Cultural Initiation of Primates into Language (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) with Savage-Rumbaugh and Dr. Par Segerdahl of Uppsala University of Sweden. Fields' appointment to director of bonobo research provides new opportunities for his predecessor and scientific mentor, Savage-Rumbaugh. A pioneer in the field of ape language studies through decades of research with chimpanzees and bonobos, Savage-Rumbaugh has begun work on another book. The publication will provide new insights into the historical studies of ape language, including Savage-Rumbaugh's cross-species co-rearing study with a bonobo (Pan paniscus) and chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). This groundbreaking work represents the first attempt to simultaneously rear a chimpanzee and a bonobo in the same language environment in an effort to determine the relative strengths of environmental versus species variables. "This work will show for the first time the true power of the environment in determining basic behavioral and learning trajectories in apes," said Savage-Rumbaugh. Contact Info: Al Setka Tel : 515.243.3580 ext. 190 (office) E-mail : Website : Great Ape Trust of Iowa

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Al Setka Tel : 515.243.3580 ext. 190 (office) E-mail :



Ben is sad because they stuck him on the oievnsffe line, as evidenced by his new jersey number. Apparently, going without him for four games worked out pretty well last year so they're doing it again.

March 16, 2012, 12:49 AM

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March 18, 2012, 1:54 AM

Does that mean that chimps and bonobos and humans can all intermarry, as long as one party is male and the other female? If so, I have my eye on Yenge at the san diego zoo!

April 17, 2012, 11:27 PM
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