Oldman, Mark Cassano, United States discussed on The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss
Make tools to fish for termites. Thought to be something only humans capable of. That's what brought the geographic lie to the beginning. Six months off to the study began may agree to gone funding. It was David Greybeard. The first chimpanzee that you were able to get close enough to to sort of connect eye-to-eye with definitely what did you see and feel when you had that opportunity. Well I saw that I was looking is a thinking feeling being and it was not so surprising. You might think because I'd always felt that animals were thinking feeling beings but with the chimpanzee so like US behaviorally and biologically. It's it's almost. It's not like looking at another human is different and I can't explain how it's different but it was a very magical moment. Because he looked back. That was the thing he didn't run. He just sat there and looked back at me. I would love to ask questions about what we might learn. And what perhaps you've learned about human nature or even questions have been raised in your interactions and observations of chimpanzees and mentioned it briefly but it it's hard to overstate just how incredible and shocking and world-shattering for many people was that you observed chimpanzees not just using tools but constructing tools for in this case consuming. Termites mean it. May it made news around the world? You'd many other observations. I believe also that the belief that chimpanzees were purely vegetarians. Also you observed not to be the case with their their consumption of other primates exactly and you noted and I know this was a real in some is a FAUX PAS at the time real personalities. And you might have been accused of anthropomorphic at all of these things but you observe different personalities in different chimpanzees and I thought perhaps we could just start with a story and that is the story of old man and Mark Cassano. If I'm getting the pronunciation right and then I have questions about a few other chimpanzees you personally had quite a bit of interaction with crews on our own land on an island in Lion Country Safari in Florida and old man had been in medical research it being captured from the wild. His mother was shocked and he was called old man. Because an infant shampoos distressed and frightened they have wrinkled faces and they huddle only they do not carry old and he was lucky he was about twelve and for some reason he was known now more used to the lab and he was put on an island with three females two of them for medical research one from searches and Maku Sauna was employed to look after them and he was told. Don't go anywhere near them that bishops. They hate people much stronger than you. They'll kill you so he troops food from his little paddle boat onto the island and began watching them. A baby was born so old man was the father and he felt visas. Such amazing beams. I must have some kind of relationship with them. If I'm to look after them supergun going closer close on one day. He held out a banana in his hand. When when Oldman to beat he said I know how you felt when David Banana from you. When they he went onto the island one day he groomed old man one day they they played an old man. I laughed and they became basically. That was a friendship and then one day mark slipped into being raining fell flat on his face unfortunately frightened this infant. Who is the love of old man's life that will bind us to protect and carry him and share Food Welsh? The mother hearing her scream raced an attacked mark biting his neck. The other two females to support her ran in one big his wrist one becky's leg and Marc will hound awesome. I going to get away from them so much stronger than us. He looked up. He saw Oldman thundering across the island with a furious colonists base on he thought his time and come to die on come to protect is precious infant but what old man did was to pull those. Three screaming rose females off mock and keep them away while not dragged himself to safety. I met mark when he came out of hospital. He said no questions. Oldman saved my life and so in. I always think if a chimpanzee who's being abused by people can reach out to help a human friend in time of need then surely agree with a greater capacity. Compassion can do the same to the chimpanzees in that time. The thank you for telling that story. And it's I think a useful and beautiful segue into a discussion of some of the other things that you observed and in this case we see compassion on the part of old man and then Perhaps on the other hand you've also observed quite a lot of aggression and violence Within chimpanzee communities of both the I think it was nineteen seventy four to seventy eight. Gumby Chimpanzee War I saw footage of. I think it was the southern troop being violated or at least the The dead bodies of those chimps. I believe in. Please correct me if I'm wrong. That in some cases dominant females will deliberately kill the young of other females to maintain dominance observing that in chimpanzees but also observing the compassion as you have. What has that led you to Believe or infer about human nature. Well it's interesting when I began talking about aggression. Many scientists told me I should play that down because it might indicate that aggression in humans was inherited from a Ancestors which for me was very clearly the case and I thought I'm not going to be bullied. I never have been by scientific opinion so I continued to talk about it. And it was the time you wouldn't remember. It was nineteen seventy seven. I think and it was a time. When whether aggression is innate inborn or acquired land was was a huge controversy. And that's when I I really talked about it to a scientific community and I I don't know I mean. It seems obvious to me that we've inherited from our common ancestor traits of aggression and also traits of compassion and empathy. To what extent if we take an example a from your personal experience and I I know very little about Frodo but Frodo seems to have been amongst the chimpanzees. You had exposure to one of the more aggressive. But I'd love to hear you speak to this. And how would you explain the variance among chimpanzees? Was it also appear to be a nate? Did did it seem to stems from some type of trauma. How did you think about that? And perhaps Frodo specifically well. They're all different. Some are much more aggressive than others disliked. We off a Rodeo. Once spoiled he was a spoilt Brat is a mother was the highest ranking female. At the time he had to. You had one older brother who always came to his defense did fee and so he always got his own way and he was. He was a real bully. So it's to a two young ones plane. Same Age as him haves and he came to join them they would stop playing immediately because they knew if he entered the game he suddenly become rough and cause them to be hurt so it it wasn't just humans feel the systems and specially me that he targeted with his displays hitting over dragging. I got Western Wall. I was stamped upon. But he was not try really to her. But he was trying to assert his dominance and I guess they don't realize quite how strong they are. I'm going to be wanted to kill me. I wouldn't be speaking to you now. That special is the assertion of dominance does is how much of this conscious and I don't know how one would even know but is is that is that a conscious or potentially conscious political maneuver to to get better access to resources and so on or is it really just a conditioned behavior based on as you said being being spoiled and that just being some type of primitive drive that they have and perhaps even we have because Don's brother before him became the top ranking male android had a very different character was reflective He became dominant not to aggression but still being smart some of the males get to the top by share aggression by bullying by swaggering about waving their arms. They remind me so much of some. Human politicians is not true but there are other males who get to the top by skillfully forming alliances and they only tackle high ranking male when the allies said to support them and then there are some who just persist they persist in charging towards groups of superior males who agree me each other startling them so they run away an Indian. This was Goblin Indian. I think the other males so it will he just go on doing us all right miss. Just let him get to the top. We don't care anymore. That's how it seemed. And he penned millions and he was small and he wasn't very blessed to you are I think for many people a messenger of hope and I personally swing quite often more often than I would like. Between having faith in humankind human nature and feeling as though we are perhaps hard coded or through DNA destined to at times revert to our lesser selves lowest selves most aggressive selfish selves. How have you formed your own thinking or I should say what is what is your thinking about human nature and where it has let us and how that relates to perhaps poor decisions and good decisions that we've made that have landed us where we are. Certainly you're in your childhood home Spending more time in England now than you have in decades. I'm also in in lockdown. But how after your many decades of observation of not just chimpanzees but humans. Where do where do you currently stand on thinking about human nature? Well I find sadly there are some people who really cost a very bad light on human beings. We looked down from another planet. And that's I mean you know as I told you earlier I was so shocked about Holocaust on. That's what made me think about human evil. And the way we differ from the chimps is that chimps can be aggressive in chimps can kill. But it's on something that's roused. It's a a strong emotion and they just display an attack but human beings can sit and think and plan deliberate torture mental and physical in cold blood and that I think is where we differ an changes from aggression to evil. And it's the dichotomy I mean. Some people are saintly and patient and good and other people The opposite and unfortunately. Today we have many presidents and prime ministers who seem to be more concerned for their own advance on their own careers. Their own power Their own acquisition of wealth gun for the good of the people who.