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Science & Tech

Chimpanzee Behavior

Dr. Jane Goodall

Lesson time 10:47 min

Dr. Jane goes into depth about how she studied complex behaviors in chimpanzees, including their usage of tools.

Dr. Jane Goodall
Teaches Conservation
Dr. Jane Goodall shares her insights into animal intelligence, conservation, and activism.
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Thanks to David Graybeard, I got to know the other chimpanzee's of the community. Because I would approach a group, ready to run, as usual, but if David was there, he just sat calmly. And I could see them looking from him to me and back again, and I suppose they thought, well, she can't be so dangerous after all. And so, in a way, he introduced me to the other chimpanzees of his community. And gradually, I began to piece together their complex society. Gradually, I got to recognize the different individuals. I named them. And the first one other than David that I really got to know well was Goliath. They were almost always together. And I realized, ultimately, that Goliath was the top ranking, or alpha, male. And looking back over the years, there's always one male who makes it to the top. And at that time, it was Goliath. I began to know many of the different females. I began to understand that they were traveling around with offspring of different ages. And it's only really looking back after 50 years, that we can get the whole picture, but it was a very exciting time to begin to understand their society. [MUSIC PLAYING] It was an unbelievable observation, just that one thing, seeing chimpanzees using and making tools. It wouldn't be surprising now. We know that chimpanzees use many different objects as tools. We know other animals use tools. We're not this so superior special creature as once was thought. At Gombe, chimpanzees use leaves as sponges. So if there's water in a little hollow in a tree which they can't reach with their lips, first, they'll try and drink. But then, they'll take a handful of leaves, they crunch them a little bit to make them more absorbent. And then, they'll dip the sponge into the water bowl and suck the water out. They use rocks as weapons. That's tool use, same thing. They use rocks to throw. Chimpanzees will, at Gombe, will pick up a hard-shelled gourd and crack it on a rock so you sort of see how these tool usings probably began. There are chimpanzees in Central Africa who've been seen using a very, very long stick to dip into a pond that was covered with some kind of water weed. And they pull it up and it's got a long trail like this and they, slurp it up. It's quite comical to watch. Not only do they use objects as tools to get food, which is the most common use, but they'll also use them as toys. And sometimes, chimpanzees will have a tug of war. I saw once Freud actually pick a round gourd and throw it in the air and catch it, which startled me. I've never seen it again. He tried to do it again and dropped it and gave up. So they do use objects in imaginative ways. So in all these different parts of Africa, there are these different ways of using tools, and it's just one example of chimpanzee intelligence. [MUSIC PLAYING] When you're watching chimpanzees-- an...

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There is still a window of time. Nature can win if we give her a chance. In her first ever online class, Dr. Jane Goodall teaches how you can conserve the environment. She also shares her research on the behavioral patterns of chimpanzees and what they taught her about conservation. You'll learn how to act locally and protect the planet.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I really loved this course. Jane has changed my mindset about so many things. Mostly about my local community and what I can do to help! Thank you!

I am a student taking AP Environmental Science and my teacher told me about Master Class. Seeing this course by Dr. Goodall made me want to learn more about how I can help the world. What she talked about was very inspiring and thought-provoking. Thank you

Absolutely amazing and inspiring. She packs so much information into this class. I learned so much about her work and about conservation.

very inspiring! thank you. Each and every of us matters and can do our part in every decision making.



Très bon contenu, très bien expliqué. Jane est vraiment généreuse de nous donner ce contenu!


Took a look at the workbook for the first time, it's a great recap of everything we learn! I am loving the resources they've included - I used it to find a local farm where my family and I can ethically source our eggs and milk (while taking recommended precautions of the quarantine of course).

Sunil B.

It is eye opening for me as a human to recognize our capacity for reassurance and our capacity to feel sadness and grief. To see that this is starkly possibly biological and extends possibly millions of years into our past evolutionary threads creates a sense of wonder for me. On a separate but perhaps related note, this gives me a sense of wonder and intrigue regarding the idea of leadership (reassurance, compassion, listening) having a biological effectiveness - hindsight is 20-20.

Bernardo F.

During my major I was taught that we mustn't watch human behaviour in animals. This case may be the exception, as we are so close in the context of evolution. A society like the ones chimpanzees have, is equivalent to the human one... of course, with its limitations, but they show some rituals that we humans have, same as gorilas and other apes. It's just incredible to see this, after many millenia listening that animals behave just like machines, that they don't think... of course they do! We aren't special, just different. In all cases, if we're more developed, it's our duty to use it for the best of all the ecosystem we live in.

Antonia T.

Now, this class was interesting! Happy to learn about the chimps, and not about Jane's life. Thanks!


Reassurance, play, grief, awareness of death, compassion, culture, harmony in the community. Our relationship with them: kidnap them from their families or breed them to be kept as pets, used in experiments and for entertainment in zoos, circuses, TV and films. In many ways, Jane's research also gives us many insights into ourselves as a species.

Catalina M.

This is such a clear (and comfortably distant) mirror of our society. The story of the grieving son almost brought me to tears.

Karen G.

That is a good lesson about how important "reassurance behaviour" is, especially whenever we need to rebuild a relationship, or are in positions of power over others.

Dee P.

A good mother teaches her child to be independent. Flo did a great disservice to Flynn by coddling him.

Dee P.

Humans are more creative than all the other animals. We are more intelligent. However, that doesn't make us superior. We depend on animals to sustain us. Without bees the human species would die within a few weeks.