There is no doubt that Peter Elliot felt a personal threat in these developments, although not a threat to his safety. "I simply couldn't accept it," he said later. "I knew my field, and I simply couldn't accept the idea of some unknown, radically violent behavior displayed by gorillas in the wild. And in any case, it didn't make sense. Gorillas making stone paddles that they used to crush human skulls? It was impossible."
After examining the body, Elliot went to the stream to wash the blood from his hands. Once alone, away from the others, he found himself string into the clear running water and considering the possibility that he might be wrong. Certainly primates researchers had a long history of misjudging their subjects.
Elliot himself had helped eradicate one of the most famous misconceptions - the brutish stupidity of the gorilla. In their first descriptions, Savage and Wyman had written, "This animal exhibits a degree of intelligence inferior to that of the Chimpanzee; this might be expected from its wider departure from the organization of the human subject." Later observers saw the gorrila as "savage, morose, and brutal." But now there was abundant evidence from field and laboratory studies that the gorilla was in many ways brighter than the chimpanzee.