Chimpanzees are humans’ closest relatives. Our species share many physical and behavioral traits, like our long lifespans and complex social relationships. Like humans, chimpanzee mothers also have long pregnancies and care for their offspring for many years, forming close bonds. Yet they face a suite of challenges that humans do not. Females mate with many males before conceiving. Chimpanzee fathers provide no direct parental care. Both males and females can be extremely aggressive toward new mothers, and may even kill newborns. How do female chimpanzees navigate these challenges? We will discuss the evolution of chimpanzee behaviors surrounding mating, conception, gestation, and maternal care.
About our speaker
Emily Boehm is a researcher at the Jane Goodall Research Center at Duke University. She received her PhD in Evolutionary Anthropology from Duke, and has also taught there since 2015. She spent 12 months living in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, following and observing wild chimpanzees.