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In The Shadow of Man

In the Shadow of Man

"In the Shadow of Man" by Jane Goodall is more than a record of the author's scientific studies on the Chimpanzee, it is a narrative of an enriched life found in man's coexistence with creatures that may very well unlock information about man's earliest ancestors. This book is remarkable in the mere fact that the author was given the consent to study the chimpanzee without any formal education in the fields of science, anthropology, or paleontology and yet she captured her experience with complete thoroughness.

The book begins with Goodall's excitement that she has been chosen by Dr. L. S. B. Leakey, renowned anthropologist and paleontologist, to spearhead the study of chimpanzees in Africa on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in The Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve. She describes the fascination with animals and nature that she embraced since childhood, as an essence or spirit that Dr Leakey found invaluable to field study and her "unbiased by theory" mind to be advantageous to the research and analyzation of the chimpanzee.

Goodall describes in detail, her mastering of the African brush and forests, which is noteworthy considering this was self-taught as she learned about the land of the chimpanzee. In many ways she was able to take lessons from the chimpanzees as she studied them with an intense passion. A particular passage notes that the climate of the African forests can resemble that of a huge greenhouse. After climbing through the mountains for periods of time, Goodall states, "Sometimes I felt I simply had to climb into a tree in order to breathe, and once I was up there I wondered why on earth our ancestors had ever left the branches." Insights such as this are typical of the author's objectivity in her studies, much as Dr. Leakey believed.

Goodall took much time in understanding the hierarchy of each particular group of chimpanzees. This took many hours of patient watching which the author thrived on, always learning something new form these magnificent creatures. For instance, if two males were offered a banana, the lower ranking chimpanzee would back off and the higher-ranking animal would get the banana . During her years of study, Goodall saw the group hierarchy change a number of times, as a younger male would take his place as leader. Of particular note was Mike's rise to leader over Goliath. This happened while Goodall was on leave for a short while to take care of her marriage plans. Mike appeared to have a superior intelligence, which may have profited him with the ritual charging displays of the male chimpanzees . However, Goodall also witnessed times when the hierarchy chain appeared obsolete. Her interpretation of such inconsistencies was that the chimpanzees showed on occasion "the crude beginnings of a sense of moral values."

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