News Focus

In the Shadow of Jane Goodall

Science  02 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5974, pp. 30-35
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5974.30

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Summary

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).