To the Editor:

Tim Kreider (“In Praise of Not Knowing,” Op-Ed, June 19) gets it half right. Retaining a sense of mystery and wonder about our living world is a keen source of joy for children — for all of us. But to take in emerging answers about the nature of Pluto or newly discovered animal species needn’t kill off that joy! Answer-seeking in science leads far less often to dry explanation than to fresh excitement.

Mr. Kreider invokes a future cryptozoologist who bags a Yeti, but let’s look instead at the real world. Jane Goodall and generations of primate scientists have now observed chimpanzees in the wild for almost 50 years. Each hard-won answer about ape social behavior, tool-using or emotional bonds brings on new waves of questions — and thus new waves of wonder.

Wicomico, Va., June 19, 2011

The writer, a biological anthropologist who studies apes, is a professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary.