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Scientists turn to apes to trace language origin

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For long it has been believed that chimpanzees are just like our forefathers and share an uncanny resemblance with us. The same theory has inspired scientists to turn apes to find out language origin clues. Interestingly a male chimpanzee may use his arms to communicate different messages. Like he may ask for meals with an extended and open hand, and he uses the same gesture to woo a female chimpanzee when it comes to mating and the very same gesture is used to harmonize with other chimp after a scuffle.

In research paper that has been published in the proceeding of National Academy of Sciences, scientists are trying to get clues to the origins of human language by analyzing the way two types of apes viz. chimpanzees and bonobos, as the duo suppose to to related, genetically, with human beings. During the research 13 bonobos and 34 chimpanzees were observed and videotaped. The finding also reinforces the theory that human beings too started with such gestures rather than relying on speech or other modes of communication.

Primatologist Frans de Waal of Emory University and Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta said:

We are a naturally gesturing species that may have first developed language in the gestural domain, and once the brain parts related to language were well developed, then started using speech. Gestures are used across a wide range of contexts whereas most facial expressions and vocalizations are very narrowly used for one particular context.

However these gestures depend on social context otherwise it may be hard to decipher whether a particular gesture has been used for food or mating.

Source: Yahoo News

Dr Prem Jagyasi and Team

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