Business, Politics & Society

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.

Dr. Goodall's class has inspired me to reconsider the various ways that one life can have an impact on many others. What an inspirational, fascinating person she is! So happy I took this class. Thank you

Maybe you could go deeper in some subjects. Most of the information that I got from the class, were for me a little rewarm. It doesn't change the fact that Ms. Goodall is a amazing intelligent person, with an incredible life. And it felt me more informations about this life and accomplishments.

Loved Dr. Jane Goodall’s advice on how to help the environment! Great class!

Jane has changed the way I look at my everyday. I will pass on as much as I can.


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.

Lorette S.

I have come to notice recently as I had set up for the first time a “killing” trap for the large amount of yellow jackets in the grass in my backyard.. What I finally became aware of was the tender loving behavior of the newly arrival Yellowjacket to the dying and deal members under her feet which her final moments were to reach out and comfort others.. Shocked me to see this in an insect.. So comparable to the individual who had lost his mom, grieved, and died as well.

Hayley S.

Flint's passing due to heartbreak really effected me. I wish more people understood that animals are capable of fighting just like we do but they are also capable of grief, loss and heartbreak. Humans do not have a monopoly on feeling emotions and the inability to cope with them.

Eileen D.

Great lesson to learn about humbling oneself after losing a "fight" and working to restore the relationship.

Svanfridur M.

It is so saddening how people can act so cruel in the face of such emotion. But at the same time, it is not surprising, as we already treat our peers horridly. The only difference with chimps is that people think they have a greater justification for the torture. We share nearly all of our DNA with them, and it truly shows.

Kalia D.

Man has always been around animals, and for millenia they were also more than what they are mostly to us today, pets, attractions, food or labor force. Then why does it need years of science and 'research' to prove their emotional behavior? How come modern humanity never notices, just by looking? What happened to all the 'good shepherds' that Christianity 2 millennia ago deemed as the most divine symbol of being a human? It seems as if modern humanity is only now waking up from a mass psychopathic delusion, their hands covered in blood, asking their friends "how long have I been gone? How many did I torture, abuse and kill?" When innate empathy can be reinforced and practiced, so can apathy. And despite all the misery it has created, we haven't evolved as much yet as to make teaching apathy a crime.

Mary S.

These stories are fascinating. And what a gift to hear these first-person observations.