Environment
Researchers translate Chimpanzee sign language
Publish Date: Jul 05, 2014
Researchers translate Chimpanzee sign language
A chimpanzee swings in its enclosure at the Ol-Pejeta conservancy in Laikipia county, Kenya. PHOTO/AFP
  • mail
  • img
newvision

WASHINGTON - Chimpanzees use their hands to say "follow me," "stop that" or "take this," according to new research seeking to translate the sophisticated messages flowing back and forth.

Previous research had revealed that our nearest genetic relatives use gestures to communicate, prompting questions over whether the communication systems shared ancestry with the origins of human language.

The new study, published Thursday in the US journal Current Biology, created the first ever chimpanzee dictionary of sorts, deciphering just what the apes were saying to each other.

The researchers said the chimpanzee gestures -- they decoded 66 in total -- can be used in isolation or several can be strung together to create more complex exchanges.

And, importantly, the meaning remained consistent, regardless of which ape was making the gestures.

The messages ranged from "simple requests associated with just a few gestures to broader social negotiation associated with a wider range of gesture types," said the authors from the University of St Andrews in Scotland.


Previous research had revealed that our nearest genetic relatives use gestures to communicate. PHOTO/AFP

The researchers studied more than 4,500 gestures within more than 3,400 interactions, all captured on film in Uganda between 2007 and 2009.

They determined that when a mother shows the sole of her foot to her baby, she means "climb on me." Touching the arm of another means "scratch me" and chewing leaves calls for sexual attention.

The researchers said their observations revealed unambiguous links between some gestures and outcomes -- like the seductive message of leaf-chewing.

Others seemed to convey more than one idea, like grasping another chimp, which sometimes seemed to indicate "stop," and other times "climb on me" or even "go away."

AFP

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Heavy losses after Lira forest fire
Firefighters manage to put out a fire in one of the largest tree plantations in Lira, but with a trail of destruction....
Urban heatwaves getting worse, study confirms
Urban heatwaves have become more frequent over the last 40 years, scientists reported on Friday....
The city that saw one hour of sun in December
Residents of Saint-Petersburg endured dreary weather conditions in December, with Russia''s second largest city seeing only one hour of sunshine....
Climate change: World closer to
Climate change and the danger of nuclear war pose an ever-growing threat to civilization, a group of prominent scientists warn....
Record-breaking 2014 was hottest in modern history
Record-breaking temperatures scorched the planet last year, making 2014 the hottest in more than a century....
A call for more courage on climate change
World leaders are urged to show more courage in negotiations to seal a global pact on climate change at a summit in France....
Will a ban on Waragi sold in sachets reduce consumption of Alcohol?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter