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: Art of Science 2014: Princeton launches online galleries of prize-winning images and video

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.

Recommended for you

P90X? Why consumers choose high-effort products

4 hours ago

Stuck in traffic? On hold for what seems like an eternity? Consumers often face situations that undermine their feelings of control. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, when a person's sense of con ...

Overdoing it: Multiple perspectives confuse consumers

4 hours ago

Television commercials for luxury vehicles pack a lot in their 30-second running times: the camera offers quick shots of the soft leather upholstery, the shiny colors, the state-of-the-art entertainment system, ...

User comments : 0