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Speaker series features talk on wild chimpanzees and gorillas

Southern Oregon University’s Social Sciences Division will host anthropologist Crickette Sanz of Washington University in St. Louis for her talk, “Comparative Studies of Chimpanzees and Gorillas in the Congo Basin,” from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30, in Room 305 of the Hannon Library.

The talk is free and open to SOU students, staff, faculty and the public.

Sanz is co-director the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project in the Republic of Congo. The project was initiated in 1999 to enhance knowledge of chimpanzees and western lowland gorillas in the Congo Basin, and to improve their conservation status. Sanz’s research focuses on primate behavioral ecology and cognition, the evolution of sociality, ecosystem health and emerging diseases, and climate change.

The Goualougo Triangle research prompted the Republic of Congo to enlarge its Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park boundaries six years ago to include the Goualougo Triangle — a remote forest that is home to several communities of chimpanzees with little exposure to humans.

Sanz earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in experimental psychology from Central Washington University, and her doctorate in biological anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis.

Anthropologist Crickette Sanz
Photo courtesy of Washington University in St. LouisCrickette Sanz, Ph.D., and her collaborator David Morgan, Ph.D., have been studying the chimpanzees of Congo's Goualougo Triangle for more than 10 years years. Their work was recently highlighted in the February edition of National Geographic Magazine that points out that these chimps, which have very limited human contact, display remarkable curiosity about us as well as "a sophisticated culture of toolmaking observed nowhere else." Dr. Sanz, who is a world leading expert on chimp tool use, is especially interested in studying the social and ecological factors shaping the complex tool-using traditions of the Goualougo chimps. These studies hold important insights for explaining primate evolutionary history, which will aid in constructing valid models of human evolution from our closest living relatives.