"What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make." -Jane Goodall

Everything little thing we do has the power to make a difference either for the good or the bad. Since our actions do not depend on any other person but ourselves, we have the ability, every single day, to do great things that can make the world a better place.

What will you decide to do with your power? 

Since most of us possess private lives with practically no audience, we may think that our decisions for the greater good are insignificant and will not drastically affect others. Is that true? Not! You don't have to be a celebrity to influence the people around you positively. For instance, family members, parents, and teachers can all make a difference in the lives of those who surround them.

Though being a positive motivator is a generous impulse for striving to become a better person, it is essential to state that merely being there and doing what you ought to do is sometimes enough to incite an individual to do fantastic things with their existence.

While we are talking about positive role models, Jane Goodall is one of the most influential and highly praised biologists of all time. She has been the motivating factor for many young scientists looking to break through and make their scientific discoveries. In today's article, we shall take a more in-depth look into Goodall's biological contributions to science.

The Early Life of Jane Goodall

Mount Kilimanjaro
Known for its wildness and the amazing variety of flora and fauna, Tanzania is where Jane Goodall started her research. (Source: Unsplash)

Born in London, England on April 3, 1934, Jane Goodall has become one of the world's most common household names when discussing science. Born to a business person and a novelist, Goodall lived a comfortable life and has stated that her love of animals developed from a very young age when her father gifted her a stuffed chimpanzee named Jubilee instead of the more traditional teddy bear.

Jane's loved of animals, and Africa led her to a Kenya-based farm that a friend owned in 1957. Fresh out of school, she acquired a job as a secretary to support herself while daydreaming of plans studying primates in the African continent.

Her major break occurred after calling Louis Leakey, a British native in Kenya, a specialist in archaeology and palaeontology. Goodall and Leakey discussed plans to further their understanding of the study of great apes such as chimpanzees. Leakey suggested to Goodall that she travel from Kenya to Great Britain to study primates with Osman Hill and John Napier.

After some years of research in the UK under Hill and Napier's supervision, Goodall made arrangements to return to Africa to the Tanzanian-based Gombe Stream National Park. Upon arrival in 1960, the first member of an elite group known as "The Trimates."

Though a lot of her education and research was performed on-site in the Gombe Stream National Park, Goodall had no degree of study in the field of primatology. Therefore, in 1962, Leakey sent Goodall to Cambridge University to clinch a PhD in ethology.

However, although Goodall's early years are worth studying to understand better how she arrived in Africa and why she decided to study chimpanzees' lives, the most curious parts of Goodall's life occurred during her 60 years biological research in Tanzania.

She is widely regarded as the most qualified living expert of chimpanzees and has earned the titles of scientist, conservationist, peacemaker, and mentor. She is an icon of scientific discovery and a trailblazing feminist who has paved the way for women interested in studying primatology.

Nonetheless, what are Jane Goodall's most noteworthy biological discoveries? Keep on reading to find out more!

The Impressive Biological Discoveries of Goodall

Throughout her 60 year research period of chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, Goodall focused primarily on primates' social and family interactions. It is safe to say that before Jane Goodall, we didn't have much knowledge about chimps.

Therefore, all of Goodall's most significant contributions to science are related to chimps and how they behave with humans and each other. 

Jane Goodall's immersive approach of being in the habitat with the chimps and not merely being an observer from a distance led her to uncover the following scientific discoveries about chimpanzees:

  • Chimps Accept People Gradually: Many researchers before Goodall preferred to take a step back and observe from a distance since chimpanzees are potent animals with the ability to do serious harm to humans. However, Goodall recognised that after the initial encounter of a few moments of uneasiness and hostility from the chimps, they calm down and become used to the humans surrounding them. The key was to stay calm and relax.
  • Chimpanzees Make Tools: regarded as a truly groundbreaking discovery, Goodall observed a chimp in separate occasions creating tools to make finding a snack more straightforward. The chimp used grass and sticks to pull termites out of a mound. This was the first time that an animal other than a human had been recorded fabricating a tool. Scientists and researchers around the world lauded Goodall for her discovery.
  • Chimps are Omnivores: originally thought by biologists to be only herbivores, throughout her years of observation, Goodall spotted chimps eating meat on different occasions. At first, the meat ingested by chimps was thought to be only other species such as pigs; however, chimpanzees hunted other, smaller monkeys.
  • Chimps Work Together in War: Goodall recorded that male chimps frequently patrol their territory's borders to ensure safety. If another male chimp from a different tribe were found near, a group of chimpanzees would chase, attack, and, sometimes kill, the intruder. Jane Goodall likened this behaviour to that of humans who are part of a gang and will do all it takes to protect their people.
  • Chimpanzees are Social Beings: one of the most prominent research developments conducted by Jane Goodall in her observations of chimps was that they are very social animals. For instance, Goodall recorded that chimps hug and kiss each other and that mothers and their offspring develop powerful bonds.
  • Female Chimps Must Learn to Become Maternal: through many years of observing chimp mothers and their offspring, Goodall concluded that mothers are instructed to be maternal by their mothers. Goodall pointed unfavourable mothers produced daughters that were not fit parents.

Modern scientists and biologists owe a lot to the magnificent and tireless work of Jane Goodall. Without her valiant efforts to better understand chimpanzees, they might still have been relatively unknown to us. Goodall is an inspiration for young men and women to follow their dreams and that through hard work and cooperation with others, various biological aspects of our planet are comprehended.

Jane Goodall's Chimps

monkeys are friends
Jane Goodall gave the chimps she was observing names to form closer bonds with them. (Source: Unsplash)

Through all of the legendary scientific research completed by Jane Goodall in her six decades of observing chimpanzees in Africa, she developed strong bonds with the primates she watched. As of 2021, Jane Goodall is the only registered human to have ever been accepted into Chimpanzee society.

Instead of giving numbers to the chimps, Goodall granted each primate she closely observed with a name as was the custom in her day. By doing this, Goodall created connections with her chimps in Tanzania that previous biologists did not dare to do.

The following are a few of Jane Goodall's most researched chimps:

  • David Greybeard,
  • Goliath, 
  • Mike, 
  • Humphrey, 
  • Gigi, 
  • Mr McGregor, 
  • Flo, 
  • Frodo. 

All of Jane Goodall's chimps were named for either their physical characteristics, dominant personality traits, or actions toward each other. Goodall followed the previously mentioned chimpanzees in a group for several years. She got to know their personalities very well, and she included the chimps in her recordings and research books. You could say that after spending so much time together, Jane and her chimps became friends.

Later Years of Jane Goodall

the later years
Since her departure from Tanzania, Jane Goodall spends a lot of her time lecturing at events to promote awareness of important matters. (Source: Unsplash)

While Jane Goodall is primarily known for her unbelievable contributions to primatology in her years at Gombe River National Park, in 1986 she decided to leave and focus on other important causes.

For example, Goodall dedicated a lot of time to the Jane Goodall Institute that she established in 1977 to support her research in Tanzania and protect chimps in their habitats. Additionally, in the 1990s, Jane Goodall started to raise awareness of the effects of deforestation and the negative consequences on animals. She worked hard to protect Africa but also other geographic regions that could be affected.

Now 86 years of age, Jane Goodall spends a lot of her time speaking as a guest lecture at various universities or environmental conservation functions. However, like any passionate primatologist, she has not forgotten about her dear friends the chimpanzees and regularly advocates better living conditions for captive chimps in zoos across the world.

Jane Goodall has received plenty of prestigious awards and honorary degrees at reputable further education centres worldwide. 

It is worth stating that Jane Goodall has written several books about her days researching chimps in Tanzania. Many of her works serve as useful references for those studying anthropology and primatology. For those who are curious about the work Goodall has done, there are over 40 films and documentaries that display her research and how she became one of the most influential people in the world of science.

In conclusion, Jane Goodall is a force to be reckoned with, and her contribution to biology and science cannot be disputed. The world is a better place with people like Jane living in it.


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