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Over 60 Gestures Used by Chimps

For decades, humans have tried to teach Chimpanzees to communicate in sign language, well now it seems that some of that training is working with Chimps able to gesture over 60 words.


The study, which now appears in Current Biology, shows that wild chimpanzees use at least 66 gestures, such as arm raises, ground slaps, and foot stomps, to intentionally communicate 19 meanings. This dictionary, or “lexicon,” was compiled by researchers Catherine Hobaiter and and Richard Byrne after observing over 80 wild chimps in the rainforests of Uganda, and then examining over 4,500 individual cases to decipher true (i.e. non-playful) meanings for the various gestures; the researchers isolated non-playful uses because in play, gestures are not always used with their ‘real’ meaning.

A Scientific FirstHobaiter claims that only humans and chimps have a system of communication in which deliberate messages are sent from one individual to another. But that’s debateable. Dolphins, through their complex use of clicks, burst-pulses, and whistles, may be utilizing a primitive form of language. And according to Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, bonobos have innate language skills, which suggests they may have their own yet-to-be deciphered lexicon of their own.

Source: Researchers Translate the Meaning of Over 60 Gestures Used by Chimps