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Jane Goodall

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Roots & Shoots

Contribution to Science

Jane's work has taught hundreds of thousands of people about chimpanzees. It is as if she opened a window onto the chimpanzee world. People all over the world know and love the chimpanzees of Gombe. When one of the chimpanzees, old Flo, died in 1972, the London Times even printed an obituary.

Women primatologists owe a debt to Dr. Goodall. "Jane Goodall's trail-blazing path for other women primatologists is arguably her greatest legacy... Indeed, women now dominate long-term primate behavioural studies worldwide", writes Gilbert Grosvenor, chairman of the National Geographic Society.

In October of 1960, Jane witnessed chimpanzees making and using tools. To that point, tool-making had been considered one of the defining characteristics of humankind.

Just a few days later, Jane observed chimps hunting bush pigs, colobus monkeys and other small mammals for meat. These discoveries were monumental findings further solidifying humans' undeniable link to chimpanzees.

In 1964, Figan deliberately kidnapped Flint to get Flo and the rest of that group to follow him to another location. The planning and intelligence demonstrated in this instance was a first. In that same year, Mike ascended to the alpha male position by showing superior intelligence. Banging empty kerosene cans, creating a noisy charging display to intimidate larger males, he bluffed his way to the top.

In the year 1970, Jane witnessed chimps performing a spontaneous dance-like display by waterfalls. Jane believes that this parallels expressions of awe that led early humans to religion.

The first non-human war began in 1974 at Gombe between the primary Kasekela and the splinter Kahama groups. The war lasted four years ending only when the last member of the Kahama group was dead.

Jane bore witness to great acts of compassion, considered a human trait, during her time at Gombe. In 1987, Spindle adopted Mel, an orphan whose mother died of pneumonia, even though the infant was not a close relative.

Researchers began to notice in 1994 that male chimps sometimes lead females away to establish brief monogamous relationships, to ensure that the female's offspring are theirs.

Also during that year, researchers discovered that chimps teach each other. Upon joining the Kasekela group, a former member of the Mitumba community imparted his knowledge of using twigs to catch carpenter ants to Flossi.

There is evidence to suggest that chimps deliberately eat medicinal plants (e.g. Aspilla leaves) to relieve stomach pains or reduce internal parasites. This was first noticed in 1995.

In 1995 and then again in 1998, the birth of twins was witnessed.

More recently, scientists discovered that females and males learn differently when fishing for termites.