Books: A Hairy Mirror

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IN THE SHADOW OF MAN by Jane van Lawick-Goodall. 297 pages. Houghton Mifflin. $10. "I saw a black shape hunched up on the ground. I hunched down myself . . . in the thick undergrowth. Then I heard a soft hoo to my right. I looked up and saw a large male directly overhead. All at once he uttered a long drawn-out wraaaai . . . one of the most savage sounds of the African forest ... I forced myself to appear uninterested and busy, eating some roots from the ground. The end of the branch above me hit my head. With a stamping and slapping of the ground a black shape charged through the undergrowth ... I expected to be torn to pieces. I do not know how long I crouched there before I realized that everything was still and silent again, save for the drip-drip of the raindrops."

With this scene of primeval terror, a young Englishwoman named Jane Goodall began an intimacy with the chimpanzees in the rain forests of Tanzania that has lasted a decade and produced one of natural history's most impressive field studies. In this book she has greatly expanded the preliminary report on her experiences, My Friends: The Wild Chimpanzees (1967); the photographs speak a volume in themselves. In the Shadow of Man should become an instant animal classic.

Scary Scrapes. Jane was 26 and a scientific nonentity when she began her work. Born in London in modest circumstances, she worked as a secretary when she arrived in Nairobi. Struck by her feeling for animals, Africa's worldrenowned paleontologist, Dr. L.S.B. Leakey, wangled a grant and packed the young lady off to chase chimps. At first she could not get within 500 yards of her subjects. Real discoveries started, however, when a bold chimp she called David Graybeard strolled into her camp one day and began chewing on a palm nut. Lured by bananas, his friends followed. Jane in turn followed the band on its jungle journeys—sometimes, despite scary scrapes with leopards, she even stayed with them all night—and gathered impressive evidence that the chimpanzee has a far more complex life-style than anybody had supposed.

Like men, she quickly discovered, chimpanzees are technological animals. They chew leaves to make sponges, which they use to sop water out of hollow branches. They also strip grass stems to make long probes, which they use to fish tasty termites out of their mounds. Jane also found out that chimps, long considered vegetarians, also eat meat. Like primitive humans, they form hunting parties and carry out fairly intricate plans to capture young bush pigs, monkeys, baboons—and even, she reports, human babies.

Prodigies of imagination. Compared with the behavior of any species except man, the chimp's social life is richly sophisticated. They have a wide range of intelligible expressions: fear, rage, hunger, shock, confusion, boredom, irritation, amusement, worry, pleading, mischief, tenderness, embarrassment—even a look of comic alarm that reminded Jane of refined English girls watching horror movies. The chimps also smile, hold hands, dance when it rains, play simple games and stage hugging-and-backslapping orgies when they discover a new fruit tree.

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