Nautilus

Chimps and the Zen of Falling Water

There is a waterfall in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park. Maybe 12 feet high, it’s fairly modestly sized, though even a modest waterfall is quite a magical thing. And it’s here that chimpanzees come to dance.

You can watch a video online, narrated by the great primatologist Jane Goodall, who, as with so many chimpanzee behaviors, was the first to observe these rituals. It’s quite a show: An adult male approaches via the riverbed with a slow, rhythmic gait, so unlike yet like our own. He throws rocks and tree branches into the falls, then catches a vine and swings above them. Finally he sits on a rock in the stream, head resting on forearms, and watches the water go

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