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Through A Window: My Thirty Years With The Chimpanzees Of Gombe By Jane Goodall

2074 words - 8 pages

Humans, complex social beings, unique in almost every aspect, this was the thought of many among the science community for centuries upon centuries. Until the1960’s when a bright eyed eager learning Jane Goodall, only 26 years old, set out to change the minds of millions that humans were not the only emotion filled, intelligent, tool making, learning, highly skilled beings roaming the earth. With Goodall being a female and having no formal scientific education, this led to her having many skeptics, but despite these minor set backs, this young enthused anthropologist not only shocked but revolutionized the anthropological world with a study about chimpanzees.

Goodall, though young, naïve, and inexperienced, made a groundbreaking discovery early on in her venture in Gombe, that humans were not the only tool making beings. One fall day as she watched David Graybeard along with others, she discovered them fishing for termites with stems of grass. She watched them intently as they carefully and mindfully choose and picked the perfect blade of grass, trimmed it down so that it was the perfect shape and size, and proceeded to poke it down into the slender hole of the termite mound. (Goodall 2000:19) The conclusion Goodall came to, which was profound to the science community of the time, was that humans were not the only ones making tools to get what they needed. (Goodall 2000:19) With this discovery by Goodall, scientists could no longer use the argument of tool making being a solely human trait to segregate humans from all others. Though the tools of the chimpanzees were not as extensively made as what a human is capable of making, it is a visible acknowledgement of the type of intelligence and the thought process that went into the making and using of the tools. This ability could also show how they are able to find solutions to everyday problems and solving them such as solving the problem of getting the termites out of the hole.

Another chimpanzee that allowed Goodall to question the scientific thought of humans being the only animal with a mind was Lucy. Lucy, a hand raised chimpanzee who was more like a human than animal, began to acquire the most human like qualities such as behavior and mannerisms, and learned every day tasks much like we learn. Lucy opened refrigerators, cupboards, poured herself drinks when needed, watch TV, read magazines, and comfortably sat in chairs. (Goodall 2000:26) Sounds much like a Saturday afternoon to me. All of this defiantly amazing and awe inspiring that a non-human could do this, but these were all just actions that could be learned by the act of copying. What struck me was that Lucy was able to identify with things she saw while leafing through the magazine and was able to communicate with the human world by signing using American Sign Language. (Goodall 2000:26) This shows the intelligence that each and every chimpanzee is capable of, bottled up and waiting to be released. When Lucy...

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