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Meet A Scientist Monday: Jane Goodall

Once again our post was inspired by a book, this time about ethologist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Jane Goodall is an extremely interesting scientist to study, because she came to science by a route that was not at all traditional.

Jane Goodall was born in London, England in 1934, which was shortly before the start of World War II. During the war she went to the countryside to stay with her grandmother. Her father went to fight in the war. After the war, her mother and father got a divorce and she stayed in the country where she learned about nature and studied animals. She also read books about far away Africa and dreamed of one day being able to visit.

Once Jane had finished school, she moved back to London and trained to become a secretary. When she had the opportunity to make a trip to Africa, she remembered her early aspirations and jumped at it. She like Africa so much, she got a job as a typist in the city of Nairobi.

By luck Dr, Louis Leakey, the famous anthropologist, and his wife Mary were also in Nairobi at the time. Jane went to meet him, and made a favorable impression. Before long, Jane Goodall was traveling with the Leakeys looking for fossils.

Louis Leakey had the idea that someone should study chimpanzees in the wild, which had never been done before. He thought Jane should give it a try. It turns out, although she had no degree and no formal training in how to study animal behavior, Jane Goodall was a natural. She didn't mind the danger and difficult conditions, and she was soon making remarkable observations.

Eventually she did go back to school to obtain her doctoral degree at Cambridge University. Now she is a world-renowned scientist and leading expert on chimpanzee behavior. This shows what a sense of adventure, willingness to work hard, and a little good timing can bring you.

Dr. Jane Goodall is also an outspoken conservationist. She started Root and Shoots, an organization that encourages people, particularly young people, to help animals and the environment.

I have reviews of related children's books at Wrapped In Foil today.

And if you are interested in chimp behavior as it relates to ants, try this post at Wild About Ants.

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