For centuries, humanity was known as the only creature that could make tools. It was thought that the feature that distinguishes humanity from the rest of the animals is to be able to make tools. However, thanks to Jane Goodall in 1960, it turned out that humans were not the only creatures that could make tools. Jane Goodall discovered that chimpanzees use objects in different ways, such as eating, drinking, or using them as weapons. The naturalist Louis Leakey, with whom she shared this discovery as his assistant, said in response “Now, we must either change the definition of the tool or accept the definition of man or chimpanzees as human beings.” Scientists Jane Goodall, who has been living with chimpanzees in Tanzania since 1960, and other naturalists, zoologists, and ethologists- scientists who study animal behavior- have made groundbreaking developments about the nature and life of chimpanzees.
Now you may be wondering, if the most obvious distinctive feature between animals and humans is that we can make tools and now, we know that chimpanzees can also make tools, so what remains to separate us? We have a method of communication with technical characteristics that no animal can do, and that is languages. Yes, animals also have their own ‘languages’, for example, chimpanzees are known to agree using 66 physical signs and moreover there are audible language structures. However, none of them have the complexity as human beings use.
The only aspect of chimpanzees that is similar to humans is not that they can make tools. Chimpanzees also have characteristic properties. So they are, too, joking or getting angry. Yes, I know it is astonishing, but some are very cranky, some are introverted and some may be a total clown! There is even a personality test prepared by scientists for chimpanzees, similar to the Myers-Briggs personality test used for humans (a test that determines your personality from 4 main categories, Analyzer, Diplomat, Watcher, and Explorer). Georgia State University uses the personality traits of chimpanzees to study the process of character development neurobiologically. For chimpanzees, who cannot fill this test on their own, animal caregivers undertake this task by observation. In this test, which is based on 43 categories, the vast majority of chimpanzees coincided with only two categories. ‘Alpha’ is the leader and dominant or ‘Beta’ is more social and playful. Moreover, according to researchers, it was reported that the hormone called vasopressin -which is found in many mammalian species, including humans- causes the prevalence of some personality traits in male and female chimpanzees. This means genetically male chimpanzees are more dominant than female chimps.
The ties and communications between mother chimpanzees and baby chimpanzees are quite humane. Baby chimpanzees spend the first 5 years of their lives with their mothers. Baby chimpanzees need the love, care, and protection of their mothers because male adult chimpanzees can attempt to eat baby chimpanzees that are not their own. So the mother chimpanzee escapes in a remote corner of the forest for birth where there are no other chimpanzees. Chimpanzees establish family ties that will last a lifetime in childhood, and when they lose their family members, they have a mourning process. According to Japanese researchers from the University of Kyoto, chimpanzees take care of each other even in the event of mental and physical disability. Nakamura, one of the researchers, said, ‘One of the characteristics of human society is to help and care for other people with disabilities and in need of protection.’ He says it is interesting to observe that chimpanzees also take care of disabled chimpanzees, given that they are the closest species to humans.
So how do chimpanzees that are so similar to us have fun?
Playing games for young chimpanzees is very important for their social development. They have fun by swinging from tree to tree, wrestling with each other, or chasing one another. Very interestingly, they tickle each other too!
According to the researchers, young girl chimpanzees imitate their mothers to play. They make themselves ‘toy dolls’ from bars. According to what was written in National Geographic, Harvard biological anthropology researcher Richard Wrangham said, “Unlike what they do with other objects, they regularly take these sticks to their nests during the day or carry them for hours. The fact that different genders of the same species played with different toys had previously been seen only in humans and some monkey species.” There are thoughts that the reason for this may be genetic.
Studies in the field of animal science and behavior show people that there are no lonely or unique species in nature. In the last century, the generation of chimpanzees in African forests has dropped from 1 million to 200 thousand. In the light of these studies, which have been carried out only in the last 60 years, new discoveries are being made about both our own species and other types of animals. Who knows, what other facts will be revealed before the animals go extinct. We can prevent the extinction of their species by protecting natural areas rather than destroying the habitats of animals. In fact, we have to admit that animals are not so different species of living things from us and that their life is worth it.
31 AUGUST 2020
BALIKESİR HABERCİ GAZETESİ