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Jane Goodall created one of the most trailblazing studies of primates in modern times when she dwelled with Tanzanian chimps to observe their behavior.
A short biography of Jane Goodall who made it her lifelong quest to teach the world about chimpanzees. Goodall founded the Jane Goodall Institute to help Africans in poverty and animal conservation.
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After finding another suitable group of chimpanzees to follow, she established a nonthreatening pattern of observation, appearing at the same time every morning on the high ground near a feeding area along the Kakaombe Stream valley. The chimpanzees soon tolerated her presence and, within a year, allowed her to move as close as 30 feet to their feeding area. After two years of seeing her every day, they showed no fear and often came to her in search of bananas.
Goodall used her newfound acceptance to establish what she termed the "banana club," a daily systematic feeding method she used to gain trust and to obtain a more thorough understanding of everyday chimpanzee behavior. Using this method, she became closely acquainted with more than half of the reserve's 100 or more chimpanzees. She imitated their behaviors, spent time in the trees, and ate their foods. By remaining in almost constant contact with the chimps, she discovered a number of previously unobserved behaviors. She noted that chimps have a complex social system, complete with ritualized behaviors and primitive but discernible communication methods, including a primitive "language" system containing more than 20 individual sounds. She is credited with making the first recorded observations of chimpanzees eating meat and using and making tools. Tool making was previously thought to be an exclusively human trait, used, until her discovery, to distinguish humans from animals. She also noted that chimpanzees throw stones as weapons, use touch and embraces to comfort one another, and develop long-term familial bonds. The male plays no active role in family life but is part of the group's social stratification. The chimpanzee "caste" system places the dominant males at the top. The lower castes often act obsequiously in their presence, trying to ingratiate themselves to avoid possible harm. The male's rank is often related to the intensity of his entrance performance at feedings and other gatherings.
Ethologists had long believed that chimps were exclusively vegetarian. Goodall witnessed chimps stalking, killing, and eating large insects, birds, and some bigger animals, including baby baboons and bushbacks (small antelopes). On one occasion, she recorded acts of cannibalism. In another instance, she observed chimps inserting blades of grass or leaves into termite hills to lure worker or soldier termites onto the blade. Sometimes, in true toolmaker fashion, they modified the grass to achieve a better fit. Then they used the grass as a long-handled spoon to eat the termites.
In 1962 Baron Hugo van Lawick, a Dutch wildlife photographer, was sent to Africa by the National Geographic Society to film Goodall at work. The assignment ran longer than anticipated; Goodall and van Lawick were married on March 28, 1964. Their European honeymoon marked one of the rare occasions on which Goodall was absent from Gombe Stream. Her other trips abroad were necessary to fulfill residency requirements at Cambridge University, where she received a Ph.D. in ethology in 1965, becoming only the eighth person in the university's long history who was allowed to pursue a Ph.D. without first earning a baccalaureate degree.
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