Research in Sanctuaries
Tchimpounga hosts several research groups studying the evolutionary links between humans and chimpanzees. Even though we share approximately 98% of our DNA with chimps, there are several important differences ranging from the physical – for example, humans are bipedal while chimpanzees are quadrupeds – to the cognitive. JGI’s research partners, the Max Planck Institute and Duke University, use non-invasive research methods to study the links between human and chimpanzee development. They make behavioral observations of young chimpanzees, bonobos, and human children and pose challenges designed to test individual ability to problem-solve. By comparing the results of these tests, researchers can help shed light on the evolution of human social cognition.
Researchers also examine the importance of individual personalities and emotional responses in problem-solving abilities. Does one individual’s sharp temper or level-headedness enhance or reduce their ability to solve an issue? This is a relatively uncharted territory within non-human primate cognitive science.
Past research performed at Tchimpounga has also included genetic studies. DNA collected from fecal samples was analyzed to perform paternity tests and to determine the sub-species structure of chimpanzee across
Photos: Top, Jennifer Krogh; Bottom: JGI