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Chimpanzees Communicate with 19 Gestures

Antonia R.Antonia R.

Chimpanzees communicate with each other using 19 combined gestures. This surprising conclusion was reached by scientists from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, who managed to interpret the gestures of the animals.

The manlike monkeys were observed in the Budongo Forest Conservation Reserve in West Kenya using video cameras until it was revealed that chimpanzees combined their gestures and facial expressions in order to send messages to their kin.

In their research, the scientists observed 80 wild chimpanzees, having recorded thousands of claps, waves and foot stomps.

The experts claim that the manlike monkeys use their gestures and facial expressions while fully conscious of the fact, and it is possible for a link to be found between their conversations and the emergence of human language.

"Even though it has been known for 30 years that manlike monkeys use gestures for communication, so far no one had understood exactly what they were saying, " reported Dr. Catherine Hobaiter from the scientific team.

It has been deduced that the manlike monkeys have 66 different gestures, with which they can express their desires. From these, the Scottish scientists have managed to differentiate 19 messages, with which the chimps communicate with each other.

For example, when a baby chimp starts to cry, the mother immediately extends her arm toward it, it understands this gesture, climbs on its mother and stops crying.

According to the observations, lifting an arm means that the monkey wants something handed to it, while tearing leaves with its teeth is an obvious sign of flirtation among primates.

However, the scientists point out that a gesture, just like in humans, can have a number of meanings.

"Just like with human words, a single gesture can have several meanings. The important thing is that they are the same, no matter who uses them, " announced the experts.

In the past, there have been several attempts made to learn the language of monkeys. In 1844, a French scientist created a monkey dictionary, after having thoroughly studied the gestures and behavior of chimpanzees.