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  • Pansy the chimp's extraordinary skills with human language have led researchers to explore the little-known world of chimpanzee communication.

  • At Twycross Zoo, primatologist Dr. Katja Liebal is investigating the methods of communication chimps choose amongst themselves.

  • Although chimps can't speak, they use a range of gestures and facial expressions as a way of communicating.

  • Chimps don't need language in their environment because they have a very complex communicative system based on nonverbal communication.

  • By observing many different groups of chimpanzees, Katja hopes to compile the world's first chimp dictionary.

  • The Twycross chimps are a useful group to study.

  • There's an ongoing power struggle between the dominant male Kip and a young teenage challenger named Peter.

  • Fights between the pair are commonplace.

  • The tension is producing a rich and varied array of chimp communication across the whole group.

  • The first gesture noticed by Katja comes as a direct result of the fight.

  • Peter is spotted making a facial expression that signifies fear.

  • The corners of the mouth are really withdrawn, and you can see the teeth.

  • They also do this when they scream, so it can be slightly open.

  • Chimps also have a facial expression for playfulness.

  • The mouth is open and the teeth are still covered with the lips.

  • It would be like this, so this would be a play face.

  • In this interaction, we can see Kip and William are chasing around, and you can see that it's a playful interaction because William actually has a play face.

  • But chimps gestures can be far more subtle than mere facial expressions.

  • Immediately after their fight, Peter taps Kip lightly on the shoulder.

  • It's "Chimp" for saying, "Sorry!"

  • The individual that lost the fight will approach the more dominant one, and will extend its arm to ask for reconciliation, so this is an expression of submissive behavior.

  • The chimps also show such communications as displaying, which means, "I'm the boss,"

  • pouting, which means, "give me some food please,"

  • grooming, which means, "I am your friend and supporter."

  • Pretending to bite means, "I'm enjoying this play fight."

  • All of these behaviors reinforce social bonds, communicate feelings, and establish who is in charge of the group.

  • They even perform actions that seem... all too human.

  • But while chimps across the world only have a limited repertoire of vocalizations, they constantly invent and share new gestures with each other.

  • One theory basically is that they imitate gestures from each other.

  • They learned their gestures by interacting with others.

  • The theory that chimps imitate each other's gestures has led some primatologist to believe that this behavior may have also been present in the ancient ancestors of humans,

  • and may have led to the languages that we all use today.

Pansy the chimp's extraordinary skills with human language have led researchers to explore the little-known world of chimpanzee communication.

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B2 UK chimp kip facial communication chimpanzee facial expression

How to Speak Chimpanzee | Extraordinary Animals | BBC Earth

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    Jeff Chiao posted on 2022/03/05
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