Rémy Chauvin

Humans, Apes and Birds Publication date : September 1, 2000

This book, aimed at the general reader, summarises recent studies about apes. It shows that humans are both closer to apes than had been previously thought (apes too have minds) and more unlike them because humans share common traits with birds (only humans and birds are capable of articulated speech). Chauvin describes experiments that have shown that apes are capable of reasoning, feeling empathy, using cunning and dealing with symbols, as well as of making and using tools by which their different cultures can be identified. But he also points out that birds alone possess a form of articulated language similar to that of humans. It has been demonstrated that parrots understand what they utter, and that they are capable of teaching one another.
At the end of this fascinating book, Chauvin suggests that sociology should give way to ethology, i.e. that the interpretation of statements should be replaced by the observation of behaviour patterns.

Rémy Chauvin is an honorary professor of animal biology at the Sorbonne.