The jet lag is noticeable to Frans de Waal. He seems tired, slowed down, his gestures are sparse. The day before, the renowned primatologist returned from Paris to his adopted hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, where the Dutch-born professor of psychobiology at Emory University has lived for 41 years.
In the French capital, de Waal spoke on the subject of his new book, The Difference: What We Can Learn About Gender and Sex From Primates. In it, the behavioral scientist provides fascinating insights into the nature of chimpanzees and bonobos, our closest relatives, and holds up an evolutionary mirror to us, so to speak. “We humans are still animals and don’t behave much differently from other primates on a social-emotional level,” says de Waal, who has been studying the behavior of great apes for almost 50 years.