Chimpanzee Culture Evolves! or, My First Job as a Journalist

I'm trying my hand at journalism! In January, I was accepted to be one of the spring 2019 Mongabay journalist interns. You can read my intern bio here. (Thanks to my dad, the eminent blogger Russ Finley, for tipping me off about this opportunity!)

Mongabay has been one of my favorite websites for years. With the tagline, "News and Inspiration from Nature's Frontline," Mongabay covers conservation with a focus on tropical rainforests. They report on everything from the beautiful reasons to protect nature, like the discovery of new species, to the heaviest environmental stories, like investigations into the disappearances and deaths of activists.

Mongabay especially targets news from Indonesia, Madagascar and Brazil... does that sound familiar from my Watson itinerary? You could say my dream year of world travel was deeply influenced by this news site.

I've never seen a chimpanzee, the subject of my first Mongabay article, in the wild. But here's a different great ape I saw: a Bornean orangutan, Pongo pygmaeus. He's swinging through the rainforest of Tanjung Puting National Park, holding a banana with his foot.


As a journalist intern, I'll write a total of six articles over the spring, working an average of ten hours per week to produce one article per month. The first two months, I've received assignments from the talented editorial staff. For my third month, I've been given the exciting but daunting task of writing a "pitch," a short but convincing summary of my own idea for an article.

With all that in mind, I am so happy to share my first article published on Mongabay. Scroll down to see the article (thanks to coding extraordinaire Collin Smith!)

Or, click here to read "Tool Innovation Shows Cultural Evolution At Work Among Chimpanzees" on Mongabay.


It was a blast to be in touch with the primatologists and ethologists behind this study. I got to read up on everything known to science about chimpanzee tool use and culture, and paint a picture of our closest living relatives through words.

Stay tuned for more reporting over the next five months!

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