Our Legacy of Science


Our Legacy of Science

The way she saw the world changed the world.


From the day she began her legendary chimpanzee research in Gombe, Jane Goodall took an unorthodox approach to her subjects. She immersed herself in their forest habitat with the fresh perspective of a mind uncluttered by academia. She set a new standard for the study of apes in the wild, experiencing their complex society as a fellow neighbor rather than a remote observer, and coming to know and interact with them as individuals over many years.

With open eyes and an open mind, Dr. Jane Goodall made discoveries that rocked the scientific world, forever changing the way we look at our closest living relatives—and ourselves.

“Now we must redefine ‘tool’, redefine ‘man’, or accept chimpanzees as humans.”

Louis B. Leakey,

In response to Jane Goodall’s observations of David and other chimpanzees

Jane’s Five Epic Discoveries

The revolutionary discoveries that Dr. Goodall made through her field work with chimpanzees are a wonder of the scientific world. Her findings suggest that many behaviors once thought to be exclusively human may have been inherited from common ancestors that we shared with chimpanzees millions of years ago. The more we discover about these kindred beings, the deeper our insight into what it means to be human.

Chimpanzees Make and Use Tools

In October, 1960, Dr. Goodall watched as a chimpanzee bent a twig, stripped off it leaves, and used it to “fish” termites from their nest. Up until her moment of discovery, the ability to make and use tools had been considered uniquely human.

Chimpanzees Hunt and Eat Meat

Also in 1960, Dr. Goodall discovered that chimpanzees are omnivorous, not vegetarian as had been thought. She observed them hunting and eating bush pigs, colobus monkeys and other small mammals.

Waging War Is Not Only Human

Some of chimpanzees’ similarities to humankind are unsettling; Dr. Goodall discovered that, like us, they engage in war against rival groups and kill members of their own species.

Chimpanzees Have Strong Mother/Infant Bonds

Through years of observation and meticulous field notes, Dr. Goodall describes the close relationships that chimpanzee mothers develop with their infants, and the strong familial bonds that siblings share.

Compassion Runs Deep

Chimpanzees show acts of compassion, another behavior once considered exclusively human. Dr. Goodall witnessed chimpanzees embracing to comfort an animal in mourning, and has documented the adoption of orphaned chimps by others in the community.

Visit Our Chimpanzee Archive

Tour the archive of dawn-to-dusk observations containing the complete life histories of more than 200 chimpanzees at Gombe National Park in Tanzania.

Leading Science

Dr. Goodall’s groundbreaking approach to research and discovery continues to serve the world at the Jane Goodall Institute. Every scientific advance we make contributes to our knowledge of chimpanzees and how to save them from extinction through community-centered conservation that benefits people, animals and the environment.

Make a difference with us.

Photo credits on this page (left to right, top to bottom): Dave Siddon/Leakey Foundation, Nick Riley, JGI/Fernando Turmo, JGI/ Bill Wallauer, Robert O’Malley