New Study Suggests That Chimps Share One Baffling Trait With Humans

On the surface, it doesn’t seem like we share nearly 100 percent of our genes with primates; we can do so many things they can’t! Have you ever seen a chimpanzee go grocery shopping or navigate a mall parking lot with an SUV? Of course not!

However, research proves chimps have advanced reasoning skills and can apply logic to certain situations. Even still, experts at one facility were stunned by a particular trait shared by both humans and our distant cousins…

Jane Goodall is considered the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees. She spent over 55 years studying them, gaining their trust, and learning their intimate lifestyles. She taught the world chimps are creatures to be admired, setting the tone for future researchers.

Facebook / Jane Goodall

Not long into her studies, she founded the Jane Goodall Institute, which not only cares for chimpanzees, but also works extensively with other animal welfare groups. But, chimpanzees were where Goodall’s passion lied.

Facebook / Jane Goodall

Through the countless hours she spent with them, she was able to help the world realize just how similar the animals were to humans. They could feel emotions and they worked in societies. But, that wasn’t all.

Facebook / Jane Goodall

As it turned out, chimpanzees were smart! Many of them, when given puzzles and complex tasks, could display problem-solving abilities and advanced thought. This chimpanzee research is also big at Kyoto University in Japan.

Center for Great Apes

One researcher, Yuko Hattori, has a Ph.D. in psychology, and, much like Goodall, she’s spent years studying the behavior and thought patterns of chimpanzees. Her findings were equally as fascinating.

Kyoto University

Kyoto University has specially designed pens for the chimps to engage in a variety of activities aimed to flex their creative muscles. But, it was one particular study that blew the researchers away.

Center for Great Apes

Hattori, along with her team of colleagues, were curious as to how their group of chimpanzees would react when they heard music. Obviously, music doesn’t exist in the wild, so the team created an interesting experiment.

The Guardian

Experts knew they had to choose the right music — something simple with a rhythm. So, they piped short recordings of piano rhythms through a plastic tunnel leading to the chimps’ living space, and they watched.

Ubu Productions

Almost immediately, they were in awe at the reaction of the first male chimp. During the course of the two-minute piano track, the chimp stood up onto his hind legs and began swaying back and forth!

The Guardian

There were seven chimpanzees in total used for the study, and every one of them offered some sort of movement to the music. Some swayed around the enclosure while others sat and clapped along. They were actually dancing!

The Guardian

The most active chimp was a male named Akira who danced around for about half of the piano track. But, researchers also noticed an interesting difference between male and female behavior.

Yuko Hattori / Kyoto University

The males were the ones who had far more physical reactions. They swayed and hooted and danced. Akira was the most active, but another chimp, Ayumu, also pranced around. The females were a bit different.

Flickr / Zabara Alexander

They were much more mellow during the songs. All four females danced for an average of 10 percent of the songs, their motions mostly foot tappings and gentle swaying. The researchers considered the reasons for this.

Walt Disney Productions

Chimps live in a patriarchal society, meaning the men are in charge. Males are far more vocal in the wild in order to communicate to other members of their group or establish dominance. The experts applied this knowledge to their dancing.

Flickr / Dhruvaraj S

Research shows dancing is an activity that dates back to the earliest civilizations, but no one thought it extended to any species of the animal kingdom. Could Kyoto’s research have been a fluke?

Well, a different team of chimpanzee researchers from England’s Warwick University noticed two chimps at the Saint Louis Zoological Park in Missouri moving in sync like they were performing in a conga line. Of course, it’s all speculation.

Facebook / Jane Goodall

Yuko Hattori said of the amazing Kyoto University experiment, “The biological foundation for dancing is deeply rooted and had already existed in the common ancestor between humans and chimpanzees approximately six million years ago.”

Walt Disney Productions

Hattori and her team still continue to make breakthroughs in the chimpanzee research, and hopefully the dancing experiment is the tip of a fascinating iceberg. Luckily, they can still rely on Jane Goodall’s work for help.

Facebook / Jane Goodall

In the early-2010s, a branch of the Jane Goodall Institute located in the Republic of Congo welcomed a new ape into its fold: Wounda. When she arrived at the rehabilitation center, Wounda was fighting for her life.

Jane Goodall

Rescued from poachers who planned to butcher her as part of an illegal bushmeat trading racket, Wounda had suffered. She was bruised, battered, and malnourished. She couldn’t walk or feed herself. Even Dr. Goodall didn’t have much hope for the ape.

Jane Goodall

“When I saw the photographs of Wounda as she came to the sanctuary,” Dr. Goodall said, “I didn’t see how she could possibly have lived.” But she, along with the dedicated staff at the Institute, were certainly going to try to revitalize the ape…

Jane Goodall

To get Wounda—whose name meant “close to death”—into a healthy, stable state, Dr. Rebeca Atencia (left) performed groundbreaking surgeries on the struggling chimp that even Dr. Goodall had never seen before.

Jane Goodall

“Rebeca came rushing back to care for [Wounda],” Dr. Goodall said of the Institute’s executive director and veterinarian. She “did what I believe to be the first ever blood transfusion from chimp to chimp.” But still, there was work to be done…

Jane Goodall

The knowledgeable staff at the Jane Goodall Institute put Wounda through a rigorous rehab regimen. She’d been so weak that she had to learn to walk and feed herself again. Would she ever be fit enough for a normal life?

Jane Goodall

With hard work, effort, and a lot of love, Wounda gained strength and muscle, going from a malnourished 63 pounds to a healthier 110 pounds. Other chimpanzees helped her find happiness within a social group, too; for the first time ever, she had friends!

Jane Goodall

Because of Dr. Atencia and the people at the Jan Goodall Institute, Wounda recovered enough strength to leave the sanctuary. While she could could never be reintroduced into the wild, Dr. Goodall had created the perfect place for her to go…

The Institute had another sanctuary on Tchindzoulou Island; it was a monitored, natural environment where Dr. Goodall planned on releasing 50 to 60 rehabilitated chimpanzees. This was where she brought Wounda on June 20, 2013.

The team at the Institute transported Wounda via truck and boat to what would become her new home. Along the way, Dr. Goodall spoke softly to the ape and soothed her anxieties during the long trip. It was soon after that something incredible happened…

Jane Goodall

Neither Dr. Goodall nor Dr. Atencia were sure how the rehabilitated ape would act once she was free to head into the protected island forests. Even still, Wounda did something completely unexpected—and Dr. Goodall struggled to hold back tears.

Jane Goodall

With all the love in her primate heart, Wounda turned to Dr. Goodall, the woman whose organization was responsible for her rescue, and pulled her in for a hug. Truly, in this moment, human and animal were connected.

Jane Goodall

Dr. Goodall returned Wounda’s hug and, without a sound, the two held the embrace for some time. For everything she’d seen in her lifetime, Dr. Goodall called this moment one of the most extraordinary things to ever happen to her. And then?

Jane Goodall Institute of Canada / YouTube

Wounda trekked off into the heart of Tchindzoulou Island, the beautiful place she would be calling “home” from then on. Dr. Goodall watched her go. But Wounda’s story did not end there…

Jane Goodall

Dr. Goodall oversaw the release of more rehabilitated chimpanzees to join Wounda on Tchindzoulou. Eventually, more than 50 chimps were introduced to the island, and Wounda became the alpha female for a group of them.

Jane Goodall

While on the island, the birth control implants Wounda received at the Institute failed… and she gave birth to a beautiful baby chimpanzee whom was later named Hope! It was an astonishing feat for an ape who was not too long ago on her deathbed.

Jane Goodall

When asked about Wounda, Dr. Goodall was nothing but humble, claiming, “It was… entirely thanks to Rebeca [Atencia], that Wounda survived.” But it was also thanks to Dr. Goodall’s unwavering love and respect for chimpanzees that Wounda—and other chimps like her—received a second chance at life.

Jane Goodall

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