The chimpanzee

by Gail Emerson June 18, 2017

An even closer relatives?

Humans' similarity to chimpanzees has long been a source of fascination and amusement. Daniel's illustration of a chimp captures that 'human' quality (it's all in the eyes apparently!) whilst showing him right at home in his jungle habitat.

Shop the DM Collection Monkey greeting card. 

We've all seen the images of 1950s chimps brought to our domain adopting human customs of smoking cigars and wearing top hats for the (human) crowd's amusement. That these wild creatures could even pretend to copy humans was a source of great mirth.

Our perceptions started to change a few decades later though when Jane Goodall famously spent time living amongst the primates and was accepted into their troop. Her observations about the sophisticated use of tools, emotional life and intricacies of chimp society transformed the way we think about these 'lesser' mammals. 

More recent studies have theorised that chimpanzees may be even more complex, and similar to us. Scientists observing chimpanzees in the Republic of Guinea followed a hunch of their local guide. Their hidden cameras proved him right. It was chimps making strange markings on trees and amassing piles of stones in hollowed trunks.

This doesn't immediately serve any purpose we understand chimps pursue - there's no food, shelter or status derived from this. The stone piles had initially been thought to be left by tribespeople, as around the world ancient cultures have honoured their gods with offerings of rock. Could the chimpanzees be doing the same? Perhaps the primates have a spiritual life as well as the complex social hierarchy they navigate.

It certainly proves we have much more to learn about these fascinating creatures. And much more to do to protect their habitat - as the wild population has plummeted in recent years

Shop the DM Collection Monkey greeting card. 




Gail Emerson
Gail Emerson

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