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Researchers translate chimpanzee sign language

Published on Jul 5, 2014 6:14 AM
 
Two chimpanzees are seen at the zoo in Abidjan on June 12, 2014. 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. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - 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.

Previous research had revealed that our nearest genetic relatives use gestures to communicate, prompting questions over whether the communication systems shared ancestry with the origins of human language.

The new study, published on Thursday in the US journal Current Biology, created the first ever chimpanzee dictionary of sorts, deciphering just what the apes were saying to each other.

The researchers said the chimpanzee gestures - they decoded 66 in total - can be used in isolation or several can be strung together to create more complex exchanges.

 
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