Pet Scoop: Study Links Monkey Lip-Smacking to Human Speech, Cop Catches Elusive Shih Tzu

April 9, 2013: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Gelada monkeys' lip-smacking may have been a key to the evolution of human speech.

Did Human Speech Evolve From Primate Chatter?

While working with gelada monkeys in the remote mountains of Ethiopia, Thore Bergman, a researcher with the University of Michigan, often heard vocalizations that sounded like other humans. But they were coming from the monkeys. “It was unnerving to have primate vocalizations sound so much like human voices," he said. So, Bergman began analyzing recordings of the undulating sounds or “wobbles” that the primates make while lip-smacking. His findings show that the lip-smacking may have been a key step in the evolution of human speech. "Our finding provides support for the lip-smacking origins of speech because it shows that this evolutionary pathway is at least plausible," Bergman said. The study was published in the journal Current Biology. — Watch it at the Los Angeles Times

River Otter Spotted in Boulder After 100 Years

A motion-sensitive camera at Colorado’s Boulder Creek has captured footage of an endangered river otter twice this year. The animal’s appearance is believed to be the result of a reintroduction program that began in the 1970s in two areas of Colorado. While there has been plenty of evidence of the program’s success on the Western Slope of the Southern Rocky Mountains, this confirmed sighting is an important sign of success in the Front Range, where it’s been a century since one was last seen. "We are extremely excited to have them back on our property,” said Christian Nunes of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks. — Read it at PawNation

Authors Tracked Cat’s Whereabouts Using GPS

When Caroline Paul’s cat, Tibby, returned home in great condition after being missing for nearly six scary weeks, Paul was so curious about where the kitty had been — and whether he had a secret life — that she decided to follow his movements using GPS. Author Paul and her partner, illustrator Wendy MacNaughton, compiled an amazing map of Tibby’s travels in their new book, Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology. — Read it at The Atlantic

Little Biscuit was on the lam for two years.

Elusive Stray Finally Caught

Biscuit, a 10-pound Shih Tzu, was on the run from Fairfax County, Va., police officer Enna Lugo for two years. The tiny dog was known for darting in and out of traffic on busy northern Virginia streets, and Lugo says he knew every possible escape route when she or area rescue groups would try to get him. “He’s definitely a survivor,” she said. “He’s as stubborn as I am.” Lugo finally caught Biscuit on Saturday, and he’s been cleaned up and treated by veterinarians. Lugo is fostering the pup to help housebreak him, and then he’ll be put up for adoption. The officer said she’d promised local residents that “even if it took me a year, I would catch Biscuit and get him to a loving home." — Watch it at Washington’s WJLA

Becker Joins American Humane Association’s Board

Vetstreet’s own Dr. Marty Becker, “America’s Veterinarian,” has joined the AHA’s Board of Directors. The charity is the country’s first national humane organization. "I've long admired the important and unparalleled work this organization does to enhance the welfare of children and animals, and now I have the opportunity to help support its critical mission as a board member,” Becker said in a statement. Becker is an award-winning vet and best-selling author, as well as a television correspondent. "Marty is a passionate and tireless advocate for the welfare of animals and children," said American Humane Association President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert, Ph.D. — Read it at Good News for Pets

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