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A Real Planet of the Apes?


Australopithecus sediba reconstruction by John Gurche; photo by Brent Stirton

In “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” a new movie opening August 5th, the apes become smart enough to revolt against humans. Just how smart are apes, and how apelike are humans? Read a just-published report about Lee Berger’s fossil discovery which may shed new light on our ancestors. The fossils show a curious blend of characteristics: an australopith’s small brain but apelike shoulders, a sophisticated hand but a primitive heel bone. Then review the amazing start and long career of Jane Goodall who has documented surprising behavior by chimpanzees.  The ability of chimps to hunt their prey with weapons is the subject of another article. Finally, investigate the nature of advanced intelligence and the differences it creates between human beings and animals.

  • 2011 August — Part Ape, Part Human: Malapa Fossils. Recent fossil finds by Lee Berger in South Africa may be the long-sought ancestor of Homo, that is, us. Josh Fischman reports on what the fossils have told us so far and the fierce debate about what they may mean in the evolution of humans. Artwork by John Gurche; photos by Brent Stirton.
  • 2010 October — Gombe at Fifty. David Quammen recounts Jane Goodall’s dramatic start fifty years ago at Gombe and her groundbreaking research on the chimpanzee population. Visit the Jane Goodall online archive for more articles.
  • 2008 April — Almost Human: Fongoli Chimps. Mary Roach reports on the field study by Jill Pruetz who has observed chimps sharpening sticks with their teeth and hunting small mammals. Photos by Frans Lanting.
  • 2008 March — Animal Minds. Virginia Morell tackles the question of advanced intelligence, and what separates us from animals. She visits researchers working with birds, dogs, and dolphins to learn more. Photos by Vincent J. Musi, with photo text by Jennifer S. Holland.


  1. Angela
    July 2, 2014, 11:21 am

    Why do artist always try to depict early human as an apes with straight hair, while it is genetically IMPOSSIBLE for Negroid humans to have evolved from apes. FIND the APE WITH NAPPY HAIR THEN I WILL BELIEVE. Curly Hair is a DOMINATE GENETIC TRAIT… FIND THAT ANCESTOR Don’t tell me about a hair brained theory of the hot sun creating the dominate curly hair trait its hot all along the equator, not just in Africa. Trace the Dominate curly hair GENE to its origin and you wont find any Straight haired hairy APES on that TREE.

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