Home » Farewell to Frans de Waal, one of the most famous primatologists in the world has died

Farewell to Frans de Waal, one of the most famous primatologists in the world has died

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Farewell to Frans de Waal, one of the most famous primatologists in the world has died

He died today at the age of 75 from stomach cancer Frans de Waal, one of the most famous and important primatologists in the world. His research has allowed scientists to have a new perception of the cognitive abilities of animals, still despised by a large part of society.

Frans de Waal will be remembered for being one of the first researchers to study it empathy and gender issues within the anthropomorphic apes and for having restored dignity to a branch of science often underestimated by the majority of the population, i.e. ethology and the study of animal behavior.

Born in the Netherlands in 1948, de Waal is dead in Atlanta, in the United States, in the country that had adopted him some time ago. He was also among the first to study conflict resolution in primates, asserting that the Machiavellian behavior of many human politicians has its origins in the same choices that seem to guide the policies of the leaders who lead groups of bonobos and chimpanzees.

Nineteen years ago, following many studies, the Dutch primatologist even went so far as to say in one of his books – Our Inner Ape – that man is nothing other than the third species of Chimpanzee present on Earth or the “natural brother” of Bonobos, having behaviors already present, albeit sketchy, in the common ancestor that links the genera Pan and Homo.

With this statement, de Wall did not mean to assert that humans and chimpanzees belonged to the same species, but that they were so similar from an emotional and behavioral point of view that they had almost the same reactions when faced with some stress factors.

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This theory, among other things, had already also been partially discussed by two other giants of modern natural sciences, viz Desmond Morris, author of the essay “The Naked Monkey”, capable of inspiring Francesco Gabbani, and Jared Diamondauthor of “The Third Chimpanzee”.

His research has also made it possible to understand how primates evolved the concept of envy and injustice. In one of his most famous experiments he had in fact provided a pair of monkeys with two rewards of different food values, demonstrating that they were able to understand if one of them was advantaged compared to the other without any merit.

During his long years of research, de Waal had repeatedly advocated for the primate recovery used in biomedical research and to limit their use within laboratories around the world. During his life he published several popular books and collaborated with the main zoos and primate recovery centers in Europe and the United States.

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