National Geographic: The New Chimpanzees




So like us,

we are both captivated and repelled.

As we move through the looking glass

into their world we are transformed.


our forest-dwelling counterparts,

unite us with the rest of nature.

Eerily, they recall our

prehistoric ancestors.

Their social life reflects ours, too.

With paramilitary patrols

political struggles for power

and gain even outright wars.

The tender affection they show

for one another

their gestures and expressions

all seem strangely familiar.

Their invention of

tools forced us to redefine

what sets humanity apart

from the beast.

And now we discover that

chimps developed not only tools,

but entire cultures which they pass on

to their young.

Even medicine seems within their grasp

And when stalked by death,

they seem to feel a sorrow we can share.

With a shiver of recognition,

we glimpse the mind of the chimp

and realize we are not alone.

Come with us on a voyage of discovery,

a journey into our collective past.

We retrace our steps

back into the forest of Africa,

the ancient homeland our species

abandoned some six million years ago.

We left behind, then,

our closest relation the one being

on this planet most like us.

For there is a mind in the forest,

a mind very much like our own,

And it lights the eyes of the chimp.

Chimpanzees share more than 97%

of our genes.

And it shows.

The invention and use of tools

was supposed to set us apart

from the other animals.

But this chimpanzee is "fishing"

for safari ants

with a wand specially selected

and pruned for the task.

Chimps make and use many tools

skills passed on from mother

to child part

of their cultural heritage.

"Ant-fishing" requires real expertise.

Safari ants are a rich food source,

but they pack a vicious bite.

With one fell swoop, they're down.

At eight years of age,

her daughter still has much to learn.

But someday she will master

this technique,

not just by trial and error

but by watching her mother at work.

For the past 35 years,

scientists have been watching

and learning from her mother, as well.

She was an infant herself

when she met her first human being,

who named her Fifi.

That human was Jane Goodall.

Jane came to know Fifi,

her mother Flo

and her entire family quite intimately

Goodall was the first human

to be accepted by wild chimpanzees.

What she discovered revolutionized our

concept of chimps and of ourselves.

All across Africa,

others have followed Goodall's lead.

A second species of chimpanzee

is studied by Takayoshi Kano.

Called bonobos, they're famous

for their human like appearance,

and the way they substitute sex

for violence

unlike the more

aggressive chimp studied

by Goodall and Christophe Boesch.

Boesch has unveiled hunting strategies

and elaborate tool use among rainforest

Chimps leading him to suggest

these things might have evolved

before our forbears left the forest.

And Richard Wrangham believes

he may even have discovered Chimps

practicing a primitive kind

of medicine.

The new research takes us ever

further into the chimp's world,

giving us a new perspective

on our shared legacy.

Chimpanzees and humans sprang

from the same primate stock.

Our paths diverged only

some six million years ago,

with our human forbears moving

onto the plains

leaving the forest to the chimpanzees.

But shared characteristics are written

deep in both our primate souls.

Chimps, too, are capable of

creating distinct cultures.

Various "nations" of chimps cling

to life across the African landscape.

Chimpanzees once thrived throughout

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "National Geographic: The New Chimpanzees" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 9 Mar. 2021. <>.

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