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Bioacoustic article in PNAS

To: Bioacoustics <>
Subject: Bioacoustic article in PNAS
From: Alan McElligott <>
Date: Wed, 9 May 2007 09:23:28 +0000 (GMT)
Ape gestures and language evolution
Amy S. Pollick, and  Frans B. M. de Waal*
Proc. National Academy of Sciences | vol. 104 | no. 19 | 8184-8189
May 8, 2007 

Living Links, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, 954 
North Gatewood Road, Atlanta, GA 30329
Contributed by Frans B. M. de Waal, March 20, 2007  (received for review 
January 28, 2007)

*To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:  

The natural communication of apes may hold clues about language origins, 
especially because apes frequently gesture with limbs and hands, a mode of 
communication thought to have been the starting point of human language 
evolution. The present study aimed to contrast brachiomanual gestures with 
orofacial movements and vocalizations in the natural communication of our 
closest primate relatives, bonobos (Pan paniscus) and chimpanzees (Pan 
troglodytes). We tested whether gesture is the more flexible form of 
communication by measuring the strength of association between signals and 
specific behavioral contexts, comparing groups of both the same and different 
ape species. Subjects were two captive bonobo groups, a total of 13 
individuals, and two captive chimpanzee groups, a total of 34 individuals. The 
study distinguished 31 manual gestures and 18 facial/vocal signals. It was 
found that homologous facial/vocal displays were used very similarly by both 
ape species, yet the same di!
 d not apply to gestures. Both within and between species gesture usage varied 
enormously. Moreover, bonobos showed greater flexibility in this regard than 
chimpanzees and were also the only species in which multimodal communication 
(i.e., combinations of gestures and facial/vocal signals) added to behavioral 
impact on the recipient.

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Dr. Alan McElligott
The School of Biology
Biology Building
The University of Nottingham 
University Park 
Nottingham NG7 2RD

Tel + 44 (0) 115 951 3231
Fax + 44 (0) 115 951 3251
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