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Chimpanzee Behavior (Cont'd)

Dr. Jane Goodall

Lesson time 09:39 min

Dr. Jane’s discoveries weren’t all happy. Find out how she uncovered the darker side of our closest relatives.

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Topics include: Hunting • Aggression • Compassion


It was a bit of a shock to find that chimpanzees also eat meat. They're not just vegetarian. And the first hunter I saw, it was really exciting, because nobody dreamed that chimpanzees would ever hunt. And gradually I learned more and more about the hunting. And at Gombe they mostly hunt other monkeys, and it's mostly the young ones. And at Gombe there are colobus monkeys, and that's the main prey. Colobus monkeys are kind of clowns, and they're not very agile in the trees. They take spectacular leaps. They sometimes fall. And the first hunt I saw very clearly there was a small group of colobus up in the tree. And I saw the chimpanzees climbing. A young one, an adolescent, eight, nine years old, he was the one who was creeping very quietly up towards the monkeys. But the other chimpanzees were climbing to positions where, if a monkey jumped or even fell, they would be there to grab the prey. And indeed, they made a kill. I have to admit, I don't like watching kills. It's not the kind of thing I enjoy. But it was exciting. And they don't always kill very quickly, especially if they catch an adult. I also watched-- it was David Greybeard who was eating a little-- well, I discovered it was a baby bushpig. And the adult bushpigs were charging about on the ground below the tree, and sometimes a piece of meat fell. And then a young chimp would rush down to grab it, and one of the adult pigs would charge. And actually, they can be very fierce. [MUSIC PLAYING] [CHIMPANZEES SCREAMING] I was absolutely shocked to discover that, like us, chimpanzees have a dark side, and they're capable of extreme violence and brutality and even a kind of primitive war. And we see this most clearly when groups of males-- and usually, there's between 6 and 10 males in a community of about 50. And I'm talking about Gombe now. And these males will regularly, in groups of three or more, patrol a very clear boundary between their community and that of a neighboring social group. So there's an in group and an out group, as we find in human communities. And if a group of males are patrolling, they're very clearly looking for sight or sound of the neighbors. And they may climb a tree and maintain complete silence, vocal silence, as they stare out over what we can think of as the hostile territory of a neighboring social group. And during these periods, I've seen a young one, who perhaps was there with his mother, tagging along with the males, the young one who hasn't yet learned that silence is important. And he may start-- he may be wanting to suckle and whimper. And I've seen the result, the response to this, two different kinds of response. One from a male who went over to the child and embraced. Quietened him. Another, a male who went over and hit the child, which made the child scream and was completely wrong. It's just one example of the ...

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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