Chimpanzee sign language: Researchers create dictionary of primate's sophisticated hand signals
Photo: Researchers uncovered 66 gestures used by chimps to communicate with one another. (AAP: Taronga Zoo)
"Chimpanzees use their hands to say "follow me", "stop that" or "take this", according to new research seeking to translate the sophisticated messages flowing back and forth between the primates.The new study, published in US journal Current Biology, created the first ever chimpanzee dictionary of sorts, deciphering just what the apes were saying to each other.
Researchers from the University of St Andrews in Scotland studied more than 4,500 gestures from 3,400 chimpanzee interactions, all captured on film in Uganda between 2007 and 2009.
They decoded 66 consistent gestures which can be used in isolation or strung together to create more complex exchanges.
Researchers determined that when a mother shows the sole of her foot to her baby, she means "climb on me".
Touching the arm of another means "scratch me", and chewing leaves calls for sexual attention.
The messages ranged from "simple requests associated with just a few gestures to broader social negotiation associated with a wider range of gesture types," the researchers said.
They said their observations revealed unambiguous links between some gestures and outcomes, like the seductive message of leaf-chewing."
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retrieved 05/7/14 at 22:43 pm Aust time