Chimpanzees have repertoire of gestures for chatting

May 8th, 2011 - 4:59 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 8 (IANS) Chimpanzees rely on more than twice the number of gestures to chat with one another than previously thought, scientists say.

They have at least 66 different mannerisms that they use to chat, according to researchers from the University Of St Andrews in Scotland.

It was previously believed chimps had just 30 distinct gestures, based on observations of animals in captivity, reports the journal Animal Cognition.

Catherine Hobaiter from St Andrews and her team spent two years analysing 120 hours of
footage of chimpanzees interacting in Budongo Conservation Field Station, Uganda.

They closely studied the animals’ mannerisms for repeat gestures and concluded that they have a “large repertoire”, according to the Daily Mail.

In one piece of footage, a mother gestures for her daughter to climb on her back; in another, a child holds another young chimp’s hand to encourage it to play.

“We think people previously were only seeing fractions of this,” Hobaiter said. “Because when you study the animals in captivity, you don’t see all their behaviour.”

“You wouldn’t see them hunting for monkeys, taking females away on ‘courtships’, or
encountering neighbouring groups of chimpanzees,” she said.

The team spent so long in the chimps’ company that they got to know each other and the
animals “got on with their daily lives”.

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