In the Shadow of Jane Goodall

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In the Shadow of Jane Goodall

From ScienceMag.org

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Perhaps the most pronounced change that has occurred since Jane Goodall first wowed the world with her Gombe observations is one that she ushered in: Protecting chimps is now intimately tied to research. Scientists who oppose invasive biomedical research with chimps, for example, now do laboratory examinations of noninvasively acquired blood, hair, feces, and urine.

Jane Goodall's pioneering studies of wild chimpanzees in Gombe in the 1960s just scratched the surface. Countless questions, of increasing complexity, remain about chimps—and how they compare to us. For the past 3 years, Science has been meeting with dozens of a new crop of chimpanzee investigators in Africa, Europe, the United States, and Japan. They come from a variety of academic backgrounds and are pursuing diverse questions in both wild and captive chimps. But most share a powerful bond with their research subjects—sometimes too strong—and a conviction that studying our closest relatives provides unique insights into human evolution. This special news report describes research documenting a bevy of unique chimp "cultures," from nut-cracking to grooming techniques, in different communities (p. 34), researchers who have moved beyond teaching apes to communicate (p. 38) to refined studies of vocalizations in both wild and captive chimps (p. 36), magnetic resonance imaging scans of captive chimps that are clarifying how their brains differ from ours (p. 40), cognitive experiments with 14 animals in Japan that are taking the field to new heights (p. 41), and a growing database of CT scans of chimp skeletons (p. 43).