Chimps Use Gestures For Communication: A Research


Chimpanzees are our closest relatives and are known for their intelligence. They are fast learner and similar to humans employ different tools to solve any problem. Recently chimpanzees have been found using hand gestures in a pursuit to reach a solution while finding hidden food. 

During an experiment, researchers at Georgia State University’s Language Research Center studied language trained chimpanzees interacting with humans in a task to find hidden food. They were surprised to see chimps using gestures to synchronize activity in achieving a particular goal.

The experiment required synchronization between the chimps and a human to locate food that was hidden in a vast outdoor area. The location of the food was undisclosed to the human participant and the chimps made hand gestures to explain and guide the human participant to reach the hidden piece of food.

Senior research scientist Dr. Charles Menzel said the experiment with the chimpanzee as leader gave new insight in further understanding the primate,

It allows the chimpanzees to communicate information in the manner of their choosing, but also requires them to initiate and to persist in communication. The chimpanzees used gestures to recruit the assistance of an otherwise uninformed person and to direct the person to hidden objects 10 or more meters away. Because of the openness of this paradigm, the findings illustrate the high level of intentionality chimpanzees are capable of, including their use of directional gestures. This study adds to our understanding of how well chimpanzees can remember and communicate about their environment.

As per scientist at the University of Chester, Dr. Anna Roberts said that the findings of the experiment are very imperative. She says the use of gestures to accomplish an activity, may have played an important role during the evolution of language. This behavior of chimps in coordinating with experimenter using various hand gestures has not been ever reported before said Dr Sam Roberts from University of Chester.

Dr. Sarah-Jane Vick from the University of Sterling said,

Previous findings in both wild and captive chimpanzees have indicated flexibility in their gestural production, but the more complex coordination task used here demonstrates the considerable cognitive abilities that underpin chimpanzee communication.

Such experiment shows how we under rate the intelligence of chimps and other animals. It’s time we give animals due respect and equal opportunity to live and flourish.

Photo credit: Science Recorder

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