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Chimps & Humans

Dr. Jane Goodall

Lesson time 11:11 min

According to Dr. Jane, there’s never been a more exciting time to study animal science. Hear how much she has learned about the remarkable similarities between chimps and humans and how much is still left to be uncovered.

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Topics include: Personalities & Emotions • Medicine • Adaptability


I firmly believe that for any student today wanting to study animal behavior, this is, without question, the most exciting time. Because today, you can study something which, when I was first involved in learning about science at Cambridge, you couldn't study, because it was said not to exist-- one of the things being animal intelligence, animal intellect, as well as personality and emotions. When I first saw tool using, it was really exciting because it was thought that humans and only humans used and made tools. Today, it wouldn't be exciting at all, because we know that there are so many other animals using tools. And so some of this is really fascinating, because science has gradually opened its mind to thinking out of the box. The original box had this sharp line dividing us from the rest of the animal kingdom. And so gradually, people, scientists, began to admit, as clearly the chimpanzees do have something like a mind. They do have something like conscious thought. I think one of the first things that was very exciting for me was seeing how much of their behavior resembled our own, because after all, that's why Louis Leakey sent me there. And I knew he'd be excited. I knew he'd be excited with descriptions of two chimpanzees greeting one another after a separation, because of course, they don't travel around as a troop, but in small groups. And that means friends are sometimes separated. Family members are separated. And then they reunite. And so when they reunite, they kiss. They embrace. They hold hands. They pat one another. Sort of things that we do, in the same context as we do them. And if a chimpanzee is feasting on some delicious fruit, another one may want to share-- come and beg with the hand out. If two males are competing for dominance, aggression is-- there's not too much actual fighting, for most of the time, they rely on looking large and fierce and intimidating rather than actually physically fighting. Which, of course, is very adaptive, less wounding and so on. So two males threatening each other, stand upright. They bristle. Their hair stands out. They look twice as big. They get a furious scowl on their face, and they may swagger from foot to foot. They may reach up and sway a branch. They may shake their fist. And this is like a lot of humans. We see the same kind of behavior. We see it in some of our politicians, where a dominant male will kind of loom over his rival. And we can think of politicians like that. I'm sure everybody can. [MUSIC PLAYING] It was very obvious as I got to know more about chimpanzee behavior, not only do the chimps have these different personalities, and that's very clear right from the beginning. It's not only clear that once you get to know chimps they all look different from each other, and they sound different. So that there is a distance or a greet...

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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