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Chimps & Humans (Cont'd)

Dr. Jane Goodall

Lesson time 11:34 min

After observing the similarities between chimps and humans, Dr. Jane believes that emotion plays an important role in science and that human beings might not be the only animal to display spiritual behavior.

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Topics include: Spirituality • Anthropomorphizing Chimps • Empathy in Science


So often, different behaviors have been thought to be unique to humans, like when I got to Cambridge, I was told that only humans had personalities, which is not true, that only humans can use tools and make tools, which is not true, that only human beings have emotions, which is not true. And then people have said, well, it's only humans who have some kind of spirituality. And maybe that's right, but I don't think so. So there are two ways in which chimpanzees show behavior which doesn't seem to be related to any special purpose. If sudden heavy rain starts, just suddenly, and it can be very violent, sometimes particularly the male chimpanzees will do this spectacular display. And very often, they'll be upright, and they'll drag branches. And sometimes they make a deep kind of .. And it may last for about five minutes as the rain comes pouring down, and then they stop and sit huddled because they don't really like the rain. And maybe that's just because they're angry. Nobody knows. But there's another display, and this one is done around the base of a waterfall. So at Gombe you get these narrow streams coming down from the rift escarpment. And in some places, you get these very steep drops. And there's one particular waterfall that I know best in the Kasakela Valley. And over the thousands of years, the falling water has worn a channel in the rock so that it's a narrow channel with the water falling, which means that as the water drops about 80 foot, it's displacing the air. So the ferns at the side and vines at the side are always moving a bit, and it's cool when you get there, compared to the heat outside. And as you approach, you hear the roar of the waterfall. And if you're following a group of chimpanzees, again, mostly males, as they get closer, the hair starts rising. And when they get up to the waterfall, they go into the stream, which normally they avoid. They jump over it. It's very shallow at the base of the waterfall. And they do this rhythmic display. It's very different from a dominance challenge. And they sway from foot to foot, and they may pick up big rocks in the stream bed and hurl them forward. And they may leap up and grab a vine and sway from foot to foot. And I have seen them climb up the vines at the side of the waterfall and push out into the spray. And at the end of one of these displays, if you're in the right place, occasionally a male chimpanzee will sit on a rock close to the waterfall. And if you're in the right place to see his eyes, you see him looking up at where the water is coming down. And you see him looking at the water as it flows away. And you can't help thinking, if chimpanzees had developed a way of communicating that's words, what is this stuff that's always coming and always going, but it's always here? And if they could start questioning it, might that lead to one of the e...

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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