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Are They Really Similar To Us

Jane Goodall is a renowned paleontologist and anthropologist. She had spent several years of her life observing chimpanzees, their behavior and the similarities between human beings and them. Her research had raised several questions about the evolution of human beings. Her research and fieldwork is shown on National Geographic Channel. She is an international spokesperson for conservation of chimpanzees. She has been fighting for inhuman behavior with chimpanzees.

She almost invested her 30 years for studying the behavior of the common chimpanzees in the Gombe stream. The main aim of this thesis is to discuss the similarities between chimpanzees and humans. According to author Jane Goodall, chimpanzees and humans have many similarities. She wrote some of these similarities in her latest book, Through a window: my thirty years with the chimpanzees of the Gombe. According to her the three things in chimpanzees which resembles to humans are:—

1) Social behavior. 2) Intellectual ability. 3) Emotions. There are many similarities in social behavior between chimpanzees and humans. There is an instance in the book, when author went to observe the group of chimpanzees, they kept a safe distance from her. This shows that, as in case of humans, they do not rely on complete strangers. Until and unless they are satisfied that stranger is not going to harm them. The fear from the stranger is common in both, human society as well as in chimpanzees.

In case of food, the male ones being stronger get the food first. While the females and children get the food afterwards. When author gave them a heap of bananas laid upon one another the males ones took the bananas first. In our human society many times stronger or the one who has power gets the privileges first. This shows that in many aspects the social behavior of humans and chimpanzees is similar. Chimpanzees have gangs too. Many males together can attack an individual. They also have fierce competition.

The gang war between two gangs is also observed. Like in human society, there is war between two countries, or between two gangs who disapprove each other. There is also a quality of leadership in them, the stronger one or the one who is accepted by all is elected as a leader of the group (Goodall (1998)). It is said that man is a social animal, a man cannot survive alone. The same concept is applied in case of chimpanzees. They prefer to live in-group. They have different groups or gangs, and sometimes they have leader.

In human society the big ones, often bully the smaller ones, so is in case of chimpanzees. The strong chimpanzees dominated all the weak chimpanzees. Many times it is sighted that a member of a group leaves the group after having a fight with its group mates. They also leave the group and join the group because the former group is a weak group. In human society, humans leave and join the group occasionally. They also join the other group that has more status. There can be also a fight between two groups based on the territory problem.

Each group has it’s own territory, if a chimpanzee invades into other’s territory then there could be a fight. Same in human society, there are countries with their own territory and their own rules. And if a human trespasses it, then he could be arrested. There are different types of group in the chimpanzee community. They have a group based on their temperaments. The aggressive ones are in different groups while the mild and gentle ones are in different groups. This shows that they make their group with others who are same in the nature.

Humans too, make friends based on their likes and dislikes. Also in mild and gentle group the chimpanzees can come and go or visit the group easily. While in the aggressive group the visitors find very difficulty in visiting. The difference in the temperament of chimpanzees is mainly because of their respective diet. It is found that the chimpanzees with the vegetarian diet are gentle and mild, while the chimpanzees with non-vegetarian diet are often aggressive. It is true that the diet decides the temperament.

The change in temperament is mainly due to their diets. The vegetarian chimpanzees rarely fight, while the chimpanzees with non-vegetarian diet fight at very short intervals. They fight with their hands and teeth’s. The aggressive chimpanzees fight ferociously. And the rivalries are killed very brutally. Same in case of humans, more the aggression, more is the ferocity. There are carnivorous chimpanzees that hunt for the prey. They go for hunting in groups and females also join them.

The hunt is done skillfully, and with the cooperation of each chimpanzee. After the prey is seized, it is distributed among them. In the distribution the bigger ones get the large portions of food, while the weak and smaller ones get the small portion. They also use the other type of food distribution strategy, which is very hard to find in the animals. In human society, there are still many tribes in the interiors that use this type of food distribution strategy. Many times chimpanzees attack human children.

This is because they mistake them to the “western red colobus”, which is one of their favorite foods. “Unlike human beings, it is often seen that the brutal act of cannibalism and infanticide is there in some chimpanzees. Exceptionally they often eat the infants of their species” (Goodall (1998)). This fact is true in case of chimpanzees that if there is arrival of any new leader in the group, then he is willing to mate with the females of that group. When a female is having a child of 2 – 3 years then she avoids herself from mating with any male.

Rather it is because of the complexity having two young children or it is her devotion towards the proper growth of his only child. So if the superior male wants to mate with the female then she has to rid off the mother from his child, thus the attempts to kill the child takes place. Like humans, intense emotions have found in chimpanzees. Be it in the relationship of mother and its child or between male and female chimpanzee. These emotions are very much like the emotions the humans have.

The male chimpanzee tries to seize every opportunity to attract the female one who could be the mother of male’s child. There can be one or more than one candidates. And sometimes the competition leads to the fighting also. Most of the times the female one gets the opportunity to choose. After choosing the mate, chimpanzees go for copulation. The period of copulation can be of many days, depending on the chimpanzees. During and after copulation the male chimpanzee is very thoughtful towards the feelings of the female chimpanzee.

The relationships in-between them are very tender, and male chimpanzee takes very much care of the female one. It protects the female from the other chimpanzees that could harm her. The female chimpanzee also becomes very thoughtful for the male chimpanzee. In human society also, the male takes the care of females. In case of child’s birth the mother takes care of an infant. During birth the mother seems to be overjoyed. In case of human beings, the birth of a child is celebrated. Like in humans, the child is depended on its mother a long period.

They are dependent on their mother for food and shelter. The mother takes the baby on her back until it becomes self-dependent. The female teaches its child to eat, to climb the trees and the other things. The upbringing of the child can be a cause of child’s failure or success. The upbringing of an infant depends on the social status of its mother. There is a chance that the child of a mother having higher status is successful, while the child of the mother having lower status is a failure.

The mother teaches its child many things like the human’s do. The whole family of a chimpanzee, like humans remains attached, they love each other. They have a feeling of love, hate, greed, despair etc. When author gave them bananas, they took the bananas in a manner that showed they do not feel anything that others will get it or not. Therefore, they have a feeling of greed. The chimpanzees also make fun of one another. The chimpanzee’s behavior is very much similar to the behavior of humans.

As the humans like to be in-group, the chimpanzees also prefer to be in-group. Like humans they do not want to feel like social outcast. In groups they love, fight, hate and care for their loved ones. They are also afraid of the strangers, and it takes a great deal of time to take them in confidence. They become angry if their subordinates do not obey them. Chimpanzees cry when they are sad, they jump here and there when they are happy and they shout when they are angry. Chimpanzee became sad at the death of other chimpanzee.

That chimpanzee can be a wife, infant, husband, or even group mate. In the book the author wrote one incidence in which the mother of a child died. The child became so sad, that he also died afterwards. They cry when someone in their family dies. In another incidence, the child died due to some disease and instead of throwing it away his mother carried him on her back for a long period of time. Maybe it was because of her love, or it was hard to accept that her child died.

This kind of love is found rare in the animal kingdom. The families are internally bonded by love. Chimpanzees also have leadership qualities. As mentioned before, there is a possibility that each group has it’s own leader. Therefore the leader is aware of its power and he acts accordingly. He takes care of the whole group, and leads the other member. Everyone, in the group obeys and respects the leader. The leader tries to save his group from any kind of danger. Like humans, chimpanzees also have emotions.

They know what is a family, how to take care of their family. They know what is happiness, what is sadness and they accordingly act, as the humans do. Intellectual behavior of any creature is its ability to learn some thing. When Goodall set out his camp in Tanzania’s Gombe forest, through her observations she told the whole world that we human are not the only creatures who can prepare tools. She told that chimpanzees can also create and use various tools and strategies for solving their problems like we human do.

“It is often seen that chimpanzees were using sharp pointed stones from hunting down their prey. The capacity of human’s brain is twice as large as that of chimpanzees. The brain capacity of humans is 1300 to 1500 cc, while brain capacity of chimpanzees is about 600 to 800 cc” (Goodall (1998)). In ancient times brain capacity of humans was equal to that of chimpanzees. But, with the time the capacity of brain of humans increased. Humans learned to make and use tools, and their living became more and more sophisticated.

The monkeys and chimpanzees are forefathers of human beings. Therefore, there are a lot of common things in both the species. Be it intellectual behavior or emotions. The human skull is very much similar to that of chimpanzees. According to author, Jane Goodall, there are striking similarities between humans and chimpanzees in the anatomy and wiring of the brain and nervous system. , “There are many similarities between the chimpanzees and the humans on the basis of an intellectual behavior” (Goodall (1997)) .

The ability to grasp, the ability to decide, the ability to respond are similar to that of human beings. Of course the grasping power of chimpanzees is weak because of their brain’s capacity. But how they manipulate things are similar to that of human’s. It can be said that the nature of human beings has developed gradually and naturally from the chimpanzees. “Through scientific researches it was proved that humans and chimpanzees has 98. 4% of genes common in between them and the overall difference is just due to the 1.

6 % of the human DNA”. ( Goodall (1997)). The child learns from his mother, how to climb trees, how to walk, as humans do. when the child grew up his mother let him go for wondering, but mother also keeps an eye on its child. The ability of learning has lots of importance in chimpanzees. Chimpanzees usually walk on their two arms and two legs but they can walk as human do. Chimpanzees have ability to identify with a person or object. Also they can deceive others. For learning in group’s chimpanzees follows the other one.

Like if a child wants to learn how to climb the trees, it simply watches the other one doing it and follows it afterwards. They learn by watching, that is, what humans do. The curiosity factor is also seen in them. They are curious to learn, about the surroundings. The problem solving ability of chimpanzees is always good, several test are conducted on them like how to reach for a banana when it is out of reach. This requires high reasoning capacity, and they generally pass this test.

They also try to solve the problem by cooperating with each other. It was also found that chimpanzees could make and use tools. Some of the scientists have experimented such abilities in chimpanzees by giving them food they love to eat. What the scientist does is that they place some thing that the chimps love to eat in a cage or possible unreachable place. Then they try to display the possible ways to reach that place to the chimps and for the second time they let the chimps do the same.

After five or four attempts the chimps reach that place and eat whatever was kept there. They use their tools in hunting and other things. Previously it was believed that only humans could make and use tool. Once, the author gave them firearm and taught them how to use it. They learned to use the firearms. It is a big question that if the chimpanzees are needing someone to teach them such effective measures, then was there anyone with the evolving mankind. There can’t be anyone. We have developed such abilities by our self’s.

Probably it would take many years for the chimpanzees to learn on there own. There are many chimpanzees that are taught the meanings of human language. The highest vocabulary was found in a female chimpanzee named Washoe who had a vocabulary of two hundred and fifty words. She was under a research project in Nevada, conducted by Washington University at Ellensburg campus Started in 1980. The researchers over there tried a lot to establish a nonverbal communication with her and devised various signs, which she could understand by practicing.

They also learn to make the copy of sign language. Unfortunately many scientists believe that the chimps are never going to learn human languages. The ability to recognize the words does not tell that they can learn the human language. They do this get the rewards. But the similarities as told by the author signify that they are very much similar to human beings. But some scientists disapprove this claim. There are many similarities and dissimilarities between chimpanzee and human beings.

. Many scientists disagree that chimpanzees are like human beings. the ability to learn is slow in them but that is because of their capacity of brain is small than that of human beings. author gave chimpanzees the name, according to her many chimpanzees responded to her when she call them by their name. But many scientists criticized this habit of author. Chimpanzees are used extensively in biomedical research. But author says that they are more similar to human beings, they could also get infected in such biomedical tests.

While the defenders of these researches say that the research on chimpanzees provide them useful information about the diseases and its cures. According to author if they are being used in such researches, then they should be treated humanly. Through her book author recalls her time spent with the chimpanzees and wants to tell the whole mankind that the chimpanzees are our nearest ancestors and if we help them then they will feel comfortable around human communities like other animals.

In her book she has discussed a lot about the experiments that are carried over chimpanzees. If the anatomy of chimpanzees is similar to that of human, then also we are not supposed to take such experiments over them. They also feel the pain as we do. Goodall has requested many communities, which are conducting such experimental surgeries, to provide them a very pleasant and friendly environment. The only message she expected to deliver through this book is that chimpanzees are no different from us. They are getting extinct from their homes.How do we feel if some one kicks us out from our own home. Chimpanzees cannot help themselves, they need our concern.


Goodall, Jane (1998), In the shadows of man, New York, Houghton Mifflin. Goodall, Jane (1991), Through a window: My thirty years with the chimpanzees of gombe, New York, Houghton Mifflin. Goodall, Jane & Alan Marks (1998), With love: Ten heart warming stories of chimpanzees in the, New York: North South Books. Goodall, Jane & Michael Neugebauer (1997), The chimpanzee family book, New York, North South Books

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