College Of Arts And Sciences | Sister Species: Lessons from the Chimpanzee
E105 | 0191 | Hunt


Sister Species: Lessons from the Chimpanzee is a broad survey of the
natural sciences as they apply to our closest living relative, the
chimpanzee.  In the course of examining what we know about chimpanzees in
the areas of social behavior, ecology, morphology, physiology, "language,"
intelligence, genetics and systematics, we will gain a deeper
understanding of the breadth of contemporary science.  A review of
chimpanzee studies will illustrate how the scientific method helps us
understand nature.  Chimpanzees are a particularly informative species to
anthropologists because they are far enough removed from humans that we
can examine them more objectively than we can examine ourselves, yet they
are similar enough to us that the insights we obtain by studying them help
us to understand ourselves. Through films, labs and writing assignments we
will get an intimate look at every aspect of chimpanzees.  Among our
interests will be: why do animals use -- or not use-- tools?  When are
animals aggressive?  How is chimp anatomy designed to solve food-getting
problems?  How does physiology influence what chimps can eat -- and what's
healthy to eat?  Can chimps use language?  What does the recently
discovered chimpanzee use of medicine mean for us?  Just how different are
chimpanzee bones, muscles and brains from our own?  These and other
questions will be answered in lectures, films and a series of labs.
Students will be encouraged to eat a chimp diet for a day and to write
about their cravings and the meaning of them.  Students will keep a diary
of their communication patterns and comment on the uses and meaning of
language.  The similarity of human and chimp disease will be investigated,
allowing participants to see just how harrowing life can be in a
doctor-less chimp world.  Chimpanzees will lead us to a better
understanding of all of nature -- and of ourselves.

Course Reading

There will be a coursepack, with approximately 20 pages of reading per
class meeting.

Course Requirements and Grading

A course grade will be determined by your performance on exams and
written assignments.

30%  Written assignments and section attendance
30%  Midterm
40%  CUMULATIVE FINAL

I grade exams on a curve, though the curve is flexible.  That is, if
scores are high I will give a higher proportion of A's and B's.