I’ve read in several places that language is the last uniquely human characteristic. Well, it turns out chimps communicate with a language of gestures: Researchers Translate the Meaning of Over 60 Gestures Used by Chimps.
In the first systematic study of a non-human primate language, scientists from St. Andrew’s University have deciphered the meaning of 66 wild chimpanzee sign language gestures. Ranging from flirting requests to grooming instructions, the gestures may reveal how language evolves.
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…
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