Wired Apes

From ‘Wired’: Every Ape in ‘Planet of the Apes’ Explained

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In a video from last year, Wired turned to Dr. Tara Stoinski, President and CEO and Chief Scientific Officer for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, who provides details about each of the great apes featured in the trilogy of films consisting of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) and War for the Planet of the Apes (2017). They will also be featured in 2024’s Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.

Over the course of the video, Stoinski offers up some interesting tidbits, such as the moment in Rise when Caesar, within the apes sanctuary, proves his dominance over Rocket. “When Caesar overtakes Rocker for alpha status,” she says, “he is showing one of the classic hallmarks of chimpanzee behavior. So male chimpanzees have linear dominance hierarchies, and they definitely compete over the course of their life to be dominant. And the reason for that is related to reproduction. So dominant male chimpanzees sire the majority of offspring in the movies.

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, 2011. Tm & Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All Rights Reserve
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, 2011. Tm & Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All Rights Reserve (Everett Collection)

“Caesar,” she continues, “is portrayed when he has an infant as sort of a king and queen type situation, the two of them together, and that is not actually what we see in chimpanzee society. Chimpanzees have a mating system that is called promiscuous, where males meet with multiple females and females also meet with multiple males. I think one of the most incredible things about chimpanzees that’s been shown is that they actually have proto-cultures that are just like human culture. So culture is something that is not something you learn in your environment, but it’s actually passed on socially. So it’s passed on generation to generation. And researchers have documented that chimpanzees in the wild have these different cultures, so they have different behaviors that have nothing to do with their environment, but rather have been created by someone in their group and then passed on over time through social leaning.”

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