Chimpanzees have a pretty complex language of gestures for communicating, including stomping their feet to say “stop that,” showing the sole of a foot for “climb on me,” and chewing on a leaf to call for sexual attention, according to a new dictionary of basic chimp language compiled by researchers in Scotland.
Anthropologists Dr. Catherine Hobaiter and Professor Richard Byrne of the University of St. Andrew in Scotland used a method called focal behavior sampling to analyze more than 4,500 gestures in 3,400 interactions made between 80 chimps in the Sonzo community in Uganda’s Bondongo Forest to come up with 66 gestures used for 19 different meanings. All gestures were recorded on film using a Sony Handycam between 2007 and 2009. Their findings were recently published in the Current Biology journal.
“There is abundant evidence that chimpanzees and other apes gesture with purpose,” says Prof. Byrne. “Apes target their gestures to particular individuals, choosing appropriate gestures according to whether the other is looking or not – they stop gesturing when they get the result they want. And otherwise they keep going, trying out alternative gestures or other tactics altogether.”
Some of the gestures were used to communicate simple meanings, such as “move away” for punching the ground or “get object” for stroking the mouth. Other gestures, like many words in the English language, have multiple meanings. Grasping another chimp sometimes means “climb on me,” but it can also indicate “stop” or even “go away.” Or when a chimp slaps one object against another, it could mean it either wants another chimp to follow or to move closer. More.
See: Tech Times