Ape Genius

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Nature Documentary hosted by David McAlister and published by National Geographic in 2008 - English narration

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Image: Ape-Genius-Cover.jpg

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Original PBS Broadcast Date: February 19, 2008

At a research site in Fongoli, Senegal, a female chimpanzee breaks off a branch, chews the end to make it sharp, then uses this rudimentary spear to skewer a tasty bushbaby hiding inside a hollow tree. The footage represents an astonishing breakthrough for primate researchers: It's the first time anyone has documented a chimpanzee wielding a carefully prepared, preplanned weapon.

But it's only the latest in a slew of extraordinary new findings about ape behavior. The more researchers learn about the great apes—chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans (see Our Family Tree)—the more evidence they find of creative intelligence. What, then, is the essential difference between us and them? "Ape Genius," a NOVA-National Geographic special, explores that provocative question and examines research that is illuminating the ape mind.

The spear-wielding chimps were documented by anthropologist Jill Pruetz of Iowa State University, who also observed the Fongoli colony doing something else never documented before: holding a pool party. Chimps were long thought to be afraid of water, but as charming poolside footage reveals, these hairy bathers swing from the trees and take the plunge in high spirits.

In addition to Pruetz, "Ape Genius" features contributions by other noted researchers, including Brian Hare of Duke University, Andrew Whiten of the University of St. Andrews, Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University, Rebecca Saxe of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Josep Call and Michael Tomasello of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. (For an extended interview with Rebecca Saxe, see The Ape That Teaches.)

Bit by bit, these investigators are converging on an explanation for why the non-human great apes never made the breakthrough into an accelerating human-style culture that builds on the achievements of previous generations. After all, apes are stronger and more agile than we are. They have also shown previously unsuspected talents for reasoning, creative problem solving, and other intelligent traits. Some have even demonstrated rudimentary language abilities (see Kanzi the Bonobo). And their emotional lives seem on a par with ours, as is evident in moving footage of a mother chimp dealing with the sickness and death of her child.

But something has held them back. What?

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Image: Ape-Genius-Screen0.jpg Image: Ape-Genius-Screen1.jpg

[edit] Technical Specs

Video Codec: XviD 1.0.3
Video Bitrate: 2056 kbps
Video Resolution: 688x432
Video Aspect Ratio: 1.593:1
Frames Per Second: 25.000
Audio Codec: 0x0055 MPEG-1 Layer 3
Audio Bitrate: 128kb/s CBR 48000 Hz
Audio Streams: 2
Audio Languages: English
RunTime Per Part: 47:29.240
Number Of Parts: 1
Part Size: 744MB
Subtitles: will be posted later
Ripped by: jvt40

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