Update: On examination, this claim was agreed by many observers to be somewhat overblown. Today, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, a revolutionary discovery — one that will stand as a milestone for paleontologists and evolutionists everywhere — was announced. Scientists based at the University of Oslo have discovered “Ida,” also […]Continue reading
Why you should listen
Into the great debate over intelligence and instinct -- over what makes us human -- Susan Savage-Rumbaugh has thrown a monkey wrench. Her work with apes has forced a new way of looking at what traits are truly and distinctly human, and new questions about whether some abilities we attribute to "species" are in fact due to an animal's social environment. She believes culture and tradition, in many cases more than biology, can account for differences between humans and other primates.
Her bonobo apes, including a superstar named Kanzi, understand spoken English, interact, and have learned to execute tasks once believed limited to humans -- such as starting and controlling a fire. They aren't trained in classic human-animal fashion. Like human children, the apes learn by watching. "Parents really don't know how they teach their children language," she has said. "Why should I have to know how I teach Kanzi language? I just act normal around him, and he learns it."
Her latest book is Kanzi's Primal Language: The Cultural Initiation of Primates into Language.
Also, in 2011, she was named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People.
Susan Savage-Rumbaugh’s TED talk
More news and ideas from Susan Savage-Rumbaugh
To celebrate March 8, International Women’s Day, we suggest these four TEDTalks gems from some amazing speakers — artists, scientists and economists who think deeply about the role of women. Author and activist Isabel Allende discusses women, creativity, feminism — and the power of passionate thinkers and doers: The former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Ngozi […]Continue reading
Last week, TEDTalks celebrated our 50 millionth view by counting down the Top 10 TEDTalks of all time (so far) — and inviting people to share their own favorites. Here are a few: My favorite is still Susan Savage-Rumbaugh and those bonobo apes. — S.F., Boynton Beach, Florida Stamets (mushrooms), Isabel Allende (passion), Dave Eggers […]Continue reading