Gesturing observed in wild chimpanzees

Mar 22, 2006

It was once thought only humans gestured to direct another person's attention, but such "referential" gesturing has now been observed in wild chimpanzees.

John Mitani, a University of Michigan anthropology professor, and colleague Simone Pika, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, observed male chimps habitually using "directed scratches" to request grooming of specific areas on the body.

The findings suggest humans' closest living relatives may be capable of mental-state attribution, making inferences about the knowledge of others.

Up until now, scientists saw directed scratching only in captive chimps and language-trained apes interacting with humans.

"The more we learn, the more we see chimpanzees employing remarkable, seemingly human-like behaviors," Mitani said.

The research appears in the journal Current Biology, in a paper entitled "Referential Gestural Communication in Wild Chimpanzees."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Researchers create methylation maps of Neanderthals and Denisovans, compare them to modern humans

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hot flashes? Thank evolution

Jul 29, 2013

A study of mortality and fertility patterns among seven species of wild apes and monkeys and their relatives, compared with similar data from hunter-gatherer humans, shows that menopause sets humans apart from other primates.

Bonobo stone tools as competent as ancient human?

Aug 21, 2012

The great apes known as bonobos can make stone tools far more varied in purpose than previously known, reaching a level of technological competence formerly assigned only to the human lineage, according to researchers.

Age affects us all

Mar 10, 2011

Humans aren't the only ones who grow old gracefully, says a new study of primate aging patterns. For a long time it was thought that humans, with our relatively long life spans and access to modern medicine, ...

Recommended for you

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

19 hours ago

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...