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Chimpanzee Behavior
Waterfall Display
In the Kakombe Valley at Gombe Stream, there is a waterfall where Jane has observed amazing behavior from the chimpanzees. As they approach the waterfall, the chimps display in slow, rhythmic motion along the riverbed. They pick up and throw large rocks and branches, leaping to seize hanging vines, and swinging out over the stream in the wind until it seems the stems will snap from their weight. Dr. Jane believes that the feelings the chimps have at the waterfall are similar to those that humans encounter in times of awe.
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Jane's observation:
For ten minutes or more they may perform this magnificent "dance." Why? Is it not possible that the chimpanzees are responding to some feeling like awe? A feeling generated by the mystery of the water; water that seems alive, always rushing past yet never going, always the same yet ever different. Was it perhaps similar feelings of awe that gave rise to the first animistic religions, the worship of the elements and the mysteries of nature over which there was no control? Only when our prehistoric ancestors developed language would it have been possible to discuss such internal feelings and create a shared religion.

Source: Reason For Hope, p. 189.

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