Blog - JGI Chimpanzee Blog
What kind of animals would Jane have seen in her first weeks at Gombe? The forest to this day is home to an array of species. Baboons are seemingly ubiquitous, and red colobus monkeys are common as well.
Jane wrote a letter to her family describing some of the animals she encountered:
Scientists have identified more than 40 gestures used by orangutans to communicate.
To initiate play, for example, the apes used gestures including back rolls and blowing rasberries, while, quite familiarly "nudge and 'shoo' movements meant an ape wanted to be left alone."
Two scientists from the University of St Andrews in Scotland observed 28 orangutans at Twycross Zoo in the UK, Apenheul Primate Park in the Netherlands, and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey.
Jane had come to East Africa from England in 1957, to pursue a dream she'd had since she was a child: to study and write about animals in Africa. In Kenya, legendary anthropologist Louis Leakey hired her as his assistant. He was eager to organize field studies of all the great apes in the wild, for they could teach much about human evolution.
You may have read about the "mark test" or "mirror test." It's a way scientists study self-awareness or self-recognition. They surreptitiously put a colored dot or other mark on a subject -- often somewhere on the face. If, while looking in a mirror, subjects touch their marks or adjust their position to see them better, it's clear they understand they're looking at an image of themselves, rather than at other beings. Species that have passed the mark test include all great apes, bottlenose dolphins and magpies.
Save the Chimps, a sanctuary in Ft. Pierce, Florida for former laboratory and entertainment chimpanzees (including the "astrochimps" the Air Force used in research), found a creative solution to the problems created by transporting chimpanzees for medical care: a mobile vet lab.
On July 14, 2010, it will be 50 years to the day that Jane Goodall first stepped out of a game warden’s boat onto the pebbly beach at the Gombe Chimpanzee Reserve in what is today Tanzania. At the time, she expected to be in the forest observing wild chimpanzees for 3 or 4 months.
A new study reports that great apes were wiped out in ancient Europe when climate and environmental changes replaced forests with grasslands. The change meant monkeys thrived but great apes did not. "Ancient relatives of modern orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and gibbons were able to survive in Asia and Africa, where those changes were not as drastic," reports the BBC.
"Scientists building Green Corridor to connect fading chimps colony to nearby mountains" -- USA Today
Japanese biologists have now begun to plant a corridor of trees across a savanna to try to connect one tiny isolated group of chimpanzees to a mountain range where thousands live.
Here's an interesting Planet Earth article about a study monitoring the impact of tourists and scientists on western lowland gorillas. Findings suggest it may be worthwile to increase the distance humans are required to keep from the gorillas, to keep the stress levels low and avoid possible aggression. The researchers note that there are other factors influencing the gorillas' behavior and that further study is needed.
It's a scenario you'll recognize. A Mom's firm "no," via shade of the head, to her toddler, who is getting into something he or she shouldn't.
Scientists studying great ape infant behavior witnessed 4 bonobos shaking their heads in ways that appeared to mean "no" on 13 different occasions. The observation raises the question: Is the "no" head shake hard-coded in humans?