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Chimpanzee Behavior

Dr. Jane Goodall

Lesson time 10:46 min

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

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

Topics include: Tool Usage • Play • Reassurance • Grief


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...

About the Instructor

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.

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Dr. Jane Goodall

Dr. Jane Goodall shares her insights into animal intelligence, conservation, and activism.

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