Apr 2
Dr. Jane Goodall photo


Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE, Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute &, UN Messenger of Peace © Stuart Clarke

Few people have inspired the world to treasure and protect nature and all living things like Dr. Jane Goodall. Sometimes affectionately referred to as “the chimp lady”, Jane has dedicated her life to inspiring people to take action in support of conservation with an emphasis, of course, on chimpanzees.

Dr. Jane has always been a tireless supporter of Wildscreen and ARKive. As recently as the last Wildscreen Festival – the world’s largest and most influential wildlife filmmaking festival – Jane spoke to a packed house about her conservation journey that started back in 1960 when she first began studying chimpanzees.

Fifty-four years later, Jane is still spreading her message of hope for animals around the world, and now there is an opportunity for the world to share a message of appreciation for Jane right back!

Jane turns 80 on April 3, 2014, and her wish is to share her birthday celebration with the world via a Google Hangout that day at 11 a.m. PDT / 2 p.m. EDT / 6 p.m. UTC. Joining Dr. Jane will be a number of young people sharing projects they are dedicating to her for her birthday. If you can’t make the virtual party, no worries! You can sign Dr. Jane’s birthday card with your sentiments and well wishes.

Dr. Jane and Freud photo

Dr. Jane Goodall with Gombe chimpanzee Freud © Michael Neugebauer

To celebrate in our own ARKive way, we’ve organized a MyARKive Scrapbook of our favourite chimpanzee images and videos on ARKive including this sweet face and this family of playful youngsters. We hope you enjoy it!

From all of us at Wildscreen & ARKive, Happy Birthday Dr. Jane!

Liana Vitali, Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

Apr 30

Disneynature’s latest film Chimpanzee,  which was exclusively previewed on the opening night of Wildscreen Festival 2012, is coming to cinemas across the UK on May 3rd.  Chimpanzee follows the remarkable story of Oscar, a baby chimp whose life takes a surprising turn after he is left all alone following a confrontation with a rival band of chimps. Here at the ARKive office to celebrate the release of this film we thought we would take a closer look at chimpanzees, our closest living relative.

A young chimpanzee

Along with the pygmy chimp and bonobo, the chimpanzee is the closest living relative to humans, and is estimated to share 98 percent of our genes. Chimpanzees are very social animals living in stable communities which range in size from 15 to 150 members. Male chimpanzees stay in the same community for their entire lives where a strict linear hierarchy is employed. 

Group of sleeping chimpanzees

Chimpanzees feed mainly on fruit, but when this is scarce they supplement their diet with leaves, seeds and insects. Another favourite food of chimpanzees is meat, with groups cooperating together to hunt and kill monkeys. Chimpanzees are highly intelligent animals and are one of few species known to use tools. They use sticks to remove ants or termites from their nests and stones to crack open nuts. Chimpanzees are also known to use leaves as sponges to absorb drinking water.

Chimpanzee using a rock to crack a palm nut

Female chimpanzees normally give birth to one infant which develops slowly. Young chimpanzees ride on their mothers back, gripping on to her fur, until the age of two and are not weaned until around four years old, although they retain strong ties with their mother after this. 

Female chimpanzee with her baby

Chimpanzees will often spend hours grooming each other, removing dirt, insects and seeds from each others fur. This not only keeps individuals dirt free and healthy, but it also helps to strengthen and maintain bonds between group members.

Chimpanzees grooming each other

To find out more visit ARKive’s chimpanzee species profile. 

Jemma Pealing
Media Researcher

May 7

Wild chimpanzees use at least 66 distinct gestures to communicate, according to new research.

Photo of chimpanzee resting in forest whilst being groomed

Chimpanzee being groomed.

Chimpanzee behaviour filmed

A team of scientists, from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, filmed a group of chimpanzees at Budongo Conservation Field Station, Uganda. The footage was then analysed, looking for signs that the chimps were intentionally signalling to each other.

To be sure that the chimpanzees were making deliberate signals, the researchers looked for clear signs such as the gesturer looking at its audience, or repeating the gesture to get a response. Earlier studies on captive chimpanzees had revealed about 30 different types of gesture, so this new research shows the species to have a larger repertoire than previously thought.

Photo of young chimpanzee playing with adult

Young chimpanzee playing with an adult.

According to Dr Catherine Hobaiter, one of the researchers, “We think people previously were only seeing fractions of this, because when you study the animals in captivity you don’t see all their behaviour. You wouldn’t see them hunting for monkeys, taking females away on ‘courtships’, or encountering neighbouring groups of chimpanzees.

Deciphering the chimpanzee repertoire

The next stage of the project will be to decipher the meanings of the different gestures. In some cases the chimpanzee’s intention appears to be clear. For example, in one piece of footage, a mother chimpanzee reaches her arm towards her daughter, indicating that the mother wants to move away and is requesting that her daughter climb onto her.

Close-up photo of chimpanzee hands

Close-up of a chimpanzee’s hands.

However, actions may not always have the effects the signaller intended. “So to understand the intended meaning, it’s no good just discovering the gesture’s typical effect. We have to look for what effect makes the signaller stop gesturing and appear satisfied and content with the outcome, to be sure that that was what they intended,” said Professor Richard Byrne, another of the researchers.

Gestures common to great apes

A comparison between the gestures made by chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans shows considerable overlap in the signals these species use. Some of these gestures may also be familiar to humans.

Photo of Bornean orang-utan baby and adult interacting

Many similar gestures are used by chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans.

Dr Hobaiter said, “This supports our belief that the gestures that apes use (and maybe some human gestures too) are derived from ancient shared ancestry of all the great ape species alive today.

Read the BBC story – Chimpanzees’ 66 gestures revealed.

View photos and videos of chimpanzees on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Species Text Author

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