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: New Hampshire bill requires cursive, multiplication tables

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Chimps with higher-ranking moms do better in fights

Jan 28, 2015

For chimpanzees, just like humans, teasing, taunting and bullying are familiar parts of playground politics. An analysis of 12 years of observations of playground fights between young chimpanzees in East ...

Recommended for you

New Hampshire bill requires cursive, multiplication tables

8 hours ago

As schools adopt new education standards and rely more on computers in the classroom, a group of New Hampshire senators want to make sure the basics of learning cursive and multiplication tables don't get left behind.

Eastern Oregon dig uncovers ancient stone tool

9 hours ago

Archaeologists have uncovered a stone tool at an ancient rock shelter in the high desert of eastern Oregon that could turn out to be older than any known site of human occupation in western North America.

Professor takes madness out of the month

12 hours ago

With the NCAA Men's and Women's Basketballl Tournaments tipping off soon, brackets and bubble-busters are reaching a fever pitch. Dr. Jay Coleman, the Richard deRaismes Kip Professor of Operations Management and Quantitative ...

Seven strategies to advance women in science

14 hours ago

Despite the progress made by women in science, engineering, and medicine, a glance at most university directories or pharmaceutical executive committees tells the more complex story. Women in science can ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.