Jane Goodall: Among the Wild Chimpanzees

Dr. Jane Goodall is one of the most renowned and celebrated anthropologists and primatologists in the world. She has been studying chimpanzees in their natural habitat (in Congo's Gombe National Park) since 1960; this is the longest continuous scientific study of animals in the wild ever conducted, and still goes on today.

Dr. Goodall's remarkable study first became famous when she observed chimpanzees engaging in behavior that was until then considered uniquely human: using tools. Since then, almost every new attempt to define human traits as unique has been consistently observed to also apply to chimpanzees to some degree, rendering the gap between our evolutionary cousins and us smaller and smaller, thus showing that our differences are not necessarily differences of kind but of degree. This, of course, should not be surprising, since we share a very recent common ancestor, as attested by our extremely close genetic makeup: about 98.6%, give or take a few fractions.

This is the story of that remarkably daring and naive young woman who made the unprecedented choice to abandon civilization and settle in wild of the jungles of Africa in order to study animals with which no Europeans were quite familiar at the time. I think you'll find her experience, as well as her findings, truly fascinating.

Don't some of those scenes just break your heart?
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