February 22, 2023

EP. 305 — Who Are The Fab Five Of The Great Ape Family? with Dr. Laura Simone Lewis

Gorillas. Orangutans. Bonobos. Chimpanzees. Humans. Can you name a more iconic Fab Five? This week, Dr. Laura Simone Lewis joins Jonathan for an episode all about our beautiful primate family tree! Listen in to learn how we’re related, what makes each species unique, and why we need to step up conservation efforts for our closest living relatives on the planet.


Dr. Laura Simone Lewis is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, and earned her PhD from Harvard in the department of Human Evolutionary Biology. Laura studies how social cognition has evolved in chimpanzees, bonobos, and humans. Besides hanging out with great apes, she loves swimming in the ocean, making pottery, and going on solo travel adventures around the world.


You can follow Dr. Lewis on Twitter @LauraSimoneLew.

We have so much more ground to cover with Dr. Lewis, and we’re already planning a follow-up episode about social cognition in chimpanzees and bonobos. If you have a question for Dr. Lewis, leave us a voicemail or text message at (917) 960-2980, or share your message with us at jonathanvanness.com.


Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @CuriousWithJVN to join the conversation.


Jonathan is on Instagram and Twitter @JVN and @Jonathan.Vanness on Facebook.


Transcripts for each episode are available at JonathanVanNess.com.


Our executive producer is Erica Getto. Our associate producer is Zahra Crim. Our editor is Andrew Carson.


Our theme music is “Freak” by QUIÑ; for more, head to TheQuinCat.com.


Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness & Laura Simone Lewis   JVN [00:00:00] Welcome to Getting Curious. I’m Jonathan Van Ness and every week I sit down for a gorgeous conversation with a brilliant expert to learn all about something that makes me curious. On today’s episode, I’m joined by Laura Simone Lewis, where I ask her: How does it feel to be a great ape? Welcome to Getting Curious. Last June, we recorded our incredible—if we do say so ourselves—Pride in Nature series. It was so exciting to do. And when we did it, we got to speak to Eliot Schrefer about queer behavior in the animal kingdom. And then we got to talk a little bit about great apes and bonobos, but it really cracked open the Faberge egg that is my curiosity about great apes. And so in walks Dr. Laura Simone Lewis, who researches how social cognition has evolved in chimpanzees, bonobos, and humans. She earned her Ph.D. from where? Harvard! Last year. And is currently a postdoctoral fellow at

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