Do YOU speak ape? Take quiz to see if you can decipher common gestures

Do YOU speak ape? Take the quiz to see if you can recognise and understand these 10 common chimpanzee and bonobo gestures

  • Humans have retained understanding of chimp gestures thanks to ape ancestors
  • So how many can you recognise in this quiz that was put together for new study?

It may seem odd to think we could instinctively understand what a chimpanzee is trying to tell us.

But experts say humans have retained an understanding of gestures made by our ancestors, even though we no longer use them ourselves.

So how do you think you would get on if put on the spot?

Take the quiz below and see if you can understand these 10 common chimpanzee and bonobo gestures.

Do you speak chimp? It may seem odd to think we could instinctively understand what a chimpanzee is trying to tell us. Take this quiz below and see if you can understand these 10 common chimpanzee and bonobo gestures

 

Arm Raise    

Big Loud Scratch

Directed Push                

Mouth Stroke

Object Shake 

Present Climb On

Present Genitals

Present Grooming

Reach             

Touch

Bonobo 

Groom me    

Groom me    

Climb on my back        

Give me that food

Let’s have sex

Climb on my back

Let’s have sex

Groom me    

Climb on my back 

Climb on my back 

Chimp 

Give me that food

Groom me    

Move into a new position

Give me that food

Let’s have sex

Climb on my back

Let’s have sex 

Groom me    

Give me that food

Give me that food 

It was put together as part of new research which found that people are able to correctly identify more than half of common great ape signings.

One of the researchers, Kirsty Graham, of the University of St Andrews, said: ‘All great apes use gestures, but humans are so gestural – using gestures while we speak and sign, learning new gestures, pantomiming etc. – that it’s really hard to pick out shared great ape gestures just by observing people. 

‘By showing participants videos of common great ape gestures instead, we found that people can understand these gestures, suggesting that they may form part of an evolutionarily ancient, shared gesture vocabulary across all great ape species including us.’ 

The discovery of the gestures used by great apes provided the first evidence of intentional communication outside human language.

Now, more than 80 of these signals have been identified.

The researchers rolled out an online quiz to test human understanding of the 10 most common gestures used by chimpanzees and bonobos. 

More than 5,500 people were asked to view 20 short videos of ape gestures and select the meaning of the gesture from four possible answers.

To the surprise of the researchers, the participants performed significantly better than expected, correctly interpreting the meaning of chimpanzee and bonobo gestures more than half the time.

When given more context about what the apes were doing in each video, the people taking part only marginally improved their success rate.

This suggests that although we no longer use such gestures, we may have retained an understanding of this ancestral communication system.

Among the gestures were an arm raise, which for bonobos means ‘groom me’ and chimps ‘give me that food’, and a big loud scratch, translated as ‘groom me’ for both apes.

It was put together as part of new research which found that people who took part were able to correctly identify more than half of common great ape signings

The discovery of the gestures used by great apes provided the first evidence of intentional communication outside human language. Now, more than 80 of these signals have been identified

To the surprise of the researchers, the participants performed significantly better than expected, correctly interpreting the meaning of chimpanzee and bonobo gestures more than half the time

There were also directed pushes, mouth strokes, object shaking, reaching and touching.

The meanings for these included ‘climb on my back’, ‘groom me’, and ‘let’s have sex’. 

The authors say it remains unclear whether our ability to understand specific great ape gestures is inherited, or whether humans and other great apes share an ability to interpret meaningful signals because of their intelligence, physical resemblance, and closely-associated social goals.

A version of the quiz, which doesn’t collect any data, has now been shared online with 14 videos for people to test out their knowledge of chimpanzee signing skills. 

The new research has been published in the journal PLOS Biology.

Evolutionary relationship between humans and chimpanzees

The exact time the two lineages split remains unclear – although it is thought they could have separated as late as five million years ago.

The date means humans could share several ancestors with chimps including Ardipithecus and early Australopithecines.

It is thought the two lineages diverged as one group of hominins chose to pursue a life in the forests while a second, our ancestors, pursued a life on the plains. 

A study on chimp and human DNA at Arizona State University found a divergence time of between five and seven million years ago for the two lineages.

However, other research has suggested this happened much later.

A paper that looked at 226 chimp offspring, for example, estimated divergence occurred between seven and 13 million years ago based on the difference in generation time between the species. 

Source: Read Full Article