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What Makes Us Human? Lessons from the Study of Wild Chimpanzees

Speaker(s): John Mitani


November 8, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


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Chimpanzees and their sister species, the bonobo, are humankind’s closest living relatives. Because of this close evolutionary relationship, chimpanzees provide a model system to evaluate claims about human uniqueness.

John Mitani’s 23-year study of an unusually large community of chimpanzees at Ngogo in Kibale National Park, Uganda, continues to challenge our notions of what makes us human.

In this talk, Mitani will review findings that reveal some interesting parallels between humans and chimpanzees with respect to friendships, longevity, and cooperation. Humans form long-lasting friendships, live a very long time, and are an unusually cooperative species. Studies of the Ngogo chimpanzees indicate that the gap between them and us in these regards may be smaller than previously thought. These findings furnish new insights into chimpanzee behavior and are particularly relevant as we continue to struggle to conserve the dwindling populations of these animals.

This event is produced in partnership with the Chicago Council on Science and Technology and the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Sponsored by:
Ann and Gordon Getty
Camilla and George Smith


November 8, 2018
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


Café Brauer, Lincoln Park Zoo
2021 N Stockton Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60614
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John Mitani

John Mitani is the James N. Spuhler Collegiate Professor and associate chair of anthropology at the University of Michigan. He is an animal behaviorist who studies the behavior of our closest living relatives, the apes. His current research involves a long-term study of an unusually large community of chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda. Mitani is a member of the Scientific Executive Committee of The Leakey Foundation.

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