Thursday, June 19, 2008

The surfeit of chimp articles at PLoS ONE

Please don’t laugh if I say the word ‘chimp’ is getting more and more auspicious and luckier for

Yesterday, two cool articles published in PLoS ONE turned out to be quite hot in the media and blogosphere this morning. The loud story discussed everywhere (such as Female chimps keep quiet while mating at Times Online; Chimp’s Sex Calls May Reflect Calculation at New York Times; Squeaky chimp sex, or not at Science News; Why chimps scream during sex - it's a bit complicated San Francisco Chronicle, and so on) highlighted why female chimps keep quite during the sexual engagement. You may like to comment on the paper and rate it right here.

Another important study on how young chimps die due to social networking, spread over 20 years of observations, analyzed links between behavioral patterns, social networking, mortality cycles and synchronization of breeding in a chimpanzee colony in Ivory Coast. Nature carried a breaking news article on its website (here) highlighting significance and impact of this study and included comments from the authors. While the story is at the moment actively being discussed at Nature, several other news channels started discussing the article – Play can be fatal for young chimps at The Cheers, Estonia; Infant play drives chimpanzee respiratory disease cycles at Eureka! Science News, Canada; Chimpanzees' Terrible Twos at Science Now; Play can be fatal for young chimps at; etc. Being an Academic Editor on this important paper it is indeed quite pleasing for me although I was reluctant initially to handle this nice article as an Editor because I am not a primatologist. However, upon close reading also in consultation with my fellow Editor, Sarah Brosnan, I found the study quite near to my interest in infectious diseases and during the process the manuscript sort of ‘resurrected’ the Veterinarian inside me! We found the authors very cooperative and prompt to the editorial queries and revised the manuscript in a highly professional style. Timeliness is really very important in science publishing and we, as always, ensured that the revisions are completed expeditiously so the story catches its full worth at just a right time point. This indeed involves a greater co-ordination and involvement on the part of editors, reviewers and the authors – a working principle at PLoS ONE.

Another chimp tale - Sarah previously studied the circumstances under which chimpanzees exchange a lower-value food item (like an apple slice) for one valued more highly (like a grape). The article was extensively covered by the media and was discussed in blogosphere. You can, as always, join in the discussion by posting your comments onto the online version of Brosnan’s paper. Another paper on Chimps’ diet by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology was picked up by Newsweek and Wired, as well as The Daily Mirror and was discussed in several blogs.

Back in the month of September a remarkable article (Chimpanzees Share Forbidden Fruit), by Kimberley Hockings and colleagues, also from Max Plank, discussed that male chimpanzees steal desirable fruits, like papayas, to engage their female counterparts, who trade sexual favours in return for a share of the spoils. This was again a big media event.

All content published at PLoS ONE, from chimps to birds to corals to genomes and metagenomes is freely available online and articles can be commented upon, rated and discussed to enjoy the full power of Web 2.0 technology that the PLoS ONE is currently harnessing. There is certainly quite diverse food for thought here and you can always join in the discussion yourself by creating an account on the journal site and posting your comments for others to read. Also, you may like to rate the articles. Ratings are the quickest and easiest way for users to indicate which articles are of potential impact for the readers and the scientific community.

1 comment:

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