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
Earth
Just under eight months into the year, humanity has already consumed its annual allotment of renewable resources, says a thinktank....
Another US trophy hunter is suspected of killing a lion in Zimbabwe without a permit, authorities in Harare said Sunday....
Kaveera ban faces early setback as traders overpower NEMA
Barely four months after announcing a total ban on carrier bags (kaveera), environmental watchdog NEMA has admitted it might be fighting a losing battle...
Foresters advised against encroaching on NFA boundary
Foresters in Lyamunda, Mpigi district have been advised against encroaching on the boundary of the forestry watch dog, National Forestry Authority (NFA)....
Zoo determined to improve cockroach image
A Japanese zoo is trying to do the impossible - improve the image of cockroaches, putting on an exhibition of one of the world''s most hated insects....
France signals
France signals a "breakthrough" at 46-nation talks in Paris tasked with paving the way for a highly-anticipated climate rescue pact....
Do you support KCCA'S move to ban campaign posters from the city?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter