Take a quiz to see if you can recognize 10 common chimpanzee gestures

Do you talk monkey? Take the quiz to see if you can recognize and understand these 10 common chimpanzee and bonobo gestures

  • Humans have retained their understanding of chimpanzee gestures thanks to their ape ancestors
  • So how many people can you identify in this test that’s been put together for a new study?

It may seem strange to think that we can instinctively understand what chimpanzees are trying to tell us.

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

So how do you think you’d fare if you put on the spot?

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

Do you speak chimpanzee? It may seem strange to think that we can instinctively understand what chimpanzees are trying to tell us. Take this quiz below and see if you can understand the 10 common chimp and bonobo gestures

What are some chimpanzee gestures?

Arm lift

Big scratching loud

Prompt payment

Apoplexy

object vibration

climb on the present

current genitals

current grooming

Reach

touches

Bonobo

calm me down

calm me down

Climb on my back

Give me this food

Let’s have sex

Climb on my back

Let’s have sex

calm me down

Climb on my back

Climb on my back

chimpanzee

Give me this food

calm me down

Move to a new position

Give me this food

Let’s have sex

Climb on my back

Let’s have sex

calm me down

Give me this food

Give me this food

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

One of the researchers, Kirsty Graham, from the University of St Andrews, said: ‘All great apes use gestures, but humans being so good at gesturing – using gestures while speaking and pointing, learning new gestures, pantomiming, etc. – it’s really challenging. to choose the gestures of common great apes just by observing people.

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

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

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

Researchers conducted 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 watch 20 short video clips of the monkey’s gestures and select the meaning of the gesture from among four possible answers.

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

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

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

Among the gestures are a raised arm, which for bonobos means “take care of me” and “give me this food” for chimpanzees, and a large, loud scratching, translated as “take care of me” for both monkeys.

Compiled as part of new research that found that people who took part were able to correctly identify more than half of the common signals of great apes.

Compiled as part of new research that found that people who took part were able to correctly identify more than half of the common signals of great apes.

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

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

To the researchers' surprise, the participants did much better than expected, correctly interpreting the meaning of the chimp and bonobo gestures more than half the time.

To the researchers’ surprise, the participants did much better than expected, correctly interpreting the meaning of the chimp and bonobo gestures more than half the time.

There were also directed thrusts, blows to the mouth, shaking of objects, reaching and touching.

Meanings of these included “climb on my back”, “take care of me”, and “let’s have sex”.

It remains unclear, the authors say, whether our ability to understand specific gestures from great apes is inherited, or whether humans and other great apes share the ability to interpret meaningful signals because of their closely related intelligence, physical similarity, and social goals.

A version of the test, which collects no data, was shared online with 14 videos of people testing their knowledge of the chimp’s signature skills.

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

An evolutionary relationship between humans and chimpanzees

The exact time the two lineages split remains unclear – although it is believed that they split as late as five million years ago.

The history means that humans could share several ancestors with chimpanzees, including Ardipithecus and early Australopithecines.

It is believed that the two lineages diverged when a group of hominins chose to pursue life in the forests while the second group, our ancestors, pursued life in the plains.

A study of chimpanzee and human DNA at Arizona State University found the divergence time between the two lineages to be between five and seven million years.

However, other research has indicated that this happened much later.

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

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