National Geographic : 1985 Jan
On Assignment THERE'S MORE than meets the eye in this snapshot of Francine "Penny" Patterson and Ronald H. Cohn (below left). The pho tographer is Koko, a gorilla who has been their student of American Sign Language for the past 12 years. Koko proved that gorillas can be shutterbugs when she took her self-portrait for the cover of the October 1978 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (below right). "She learned how to use a camera by watching me," explains Cohn, who documents the gorilla language project with photographs and videotape. "Koko wants to do what I do," he says, so occa sionally they reverse roles (bottom). A molecu lar biologist, Cohn received his doctorate from the University of Illinois and taught electron microscopy there. He pursued a fellowship at Stanford University, where Patterson earned her doctorate in developmental psychology with her study of Koko and a male gorilla, Mi chael. Since leaving Stanford, the scientists have made the project a lifelong commitment.