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Bonobo and chimpanzee gestures overlap extensively in meaning

Bonobos and chimpanzees are closely related members of the great ape family, and both species use gestures to communicate. In this study by Graham et al., the authors were able to deduce the meaning of great ape gestures by assessing whether the signaler was satisfied by the response elicited in the recipient of the gesture (i.e. whether they then stopped gesturing). This allowed them to define the meaning of bonobo gestures, and then to compare the meanings of bonobo gestures with those of chimpanzees. They found that many of the gestures share the same meanings, and that bonobos and chimpanzees could, in principle, understand one another's gestures. The image shows bonobos grooming, a frequent outcome of gesturing.

Image Credit: Catherine Hobaiter