Blog - JGI Chimpanzee Blog
14th July 1960
“We really did manage to get off today. We woke at dawn ... Left about 9 and arrived about 11. The fisherman were all along the beaches frying their dagga fish. It looked as though patches of sand had been whitewashed. Above, the mountains rose up steeply behind the beaches. The slopes were thickly covered with accacia and other trees -Miombo woodland? Every so often a stream cascaded down the vallys between the ridges, with its thick fringe of forest -the home of the chimps.
At 7:40 a.m. on October 30, sitting on her Peak, Jane heard a wild commotion in the treetops below her. She heard some "angry little screams," and finally saw 1 of 3 chimpanzees grasping something pink. Two bushpigs ran around the base of the tree, and chased a smaller chimpanzee up it. Baboons tried to get close, snarling and skirmishing with the chimps. Eventually the chimp with the coveted goods moved out onto a high, bare branch and Jane could see he was holding a piece of carcass.
A fossil discovery described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is inconsistent with common notions that our direct evolutionary ancestors looked more like chimpanzees or gorillas than humans.
Like the famous "Lucy," this fossil, dubbed "Big Man," is Australopithecus afarensis, a bipedal primate and direct ancestor of humans. Big Man stood about 5'5," had legs that would have been good for running, and had a rib cage similar to our own. He was much taller than Lucy.
After a few weeks at Gombe, Jane found a perfect vantage point for watching the chimpanzees. It was a high ridge that gave her a good view in all directions. She could see the chimpanzees moving in the trees, and she could hear if they called.
Check out this interesting New York Times article, which describes unusual behavior in Barbary macaque males. They use infants -- their own and others -- to facilitate bonding with other males, toting infants as status symbols. Dr.
If you're a frequent visitor to our website or belong to our online community*, you may have heard us explain that entertainment chimpanzees generally can't be retired to zoos, because they haven't learned chimpanzee social skills and therefore don't fit in easily with established chimpanzee groups.
A new study shows that male chimpanzee groups move into the territory of other chimpanzee groups to attack them and ultimately take over the territory or mates. But the scientists who conducted the study say they are reluctant to draw comparisons to human warfare. Instead, they are emphasizing the individual cooperation involved.
The Guardian quotes scientist John Mitani, a primate behavioral ecologist at the University of Michigan:
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.