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Humans understand chimps’ sign language, scientists reveal

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HUMANS understand chimps’ sign language, scientists say.
We still have ancient instincts that help us read hand gestures used by our ancestors before we evolved to speak.
Humans understand chimps’ sign language1Humans understand chimps’ sign languageCredit: AlamyApes including chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos still use the same signs to communicate.
A study by the University of St Andrews in Scotland showed videos of 100 ape gestures to 5,656 people.
Volunteers correctly worked out the meaning more than half the time — more than they could have guessed at random.
Three quarters of people correctly guessed that a big chest scratch meant “groom me”.
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When a chimp touched another one’s mouth or tapped them, 79 per cent knew it meant “give me that food”.
Two thirds knew a gentle shove by a chimp or bonobo was an instruction to move or climb on to their back.
Study author and chimp expert Dr Cat Hobaiter said: “We can decode these gestures almost instinctively — it’s a useful reminder that we are also great apes.
“Even though modern humans have language, we’ve kept some understanding of our shared ancestral system of ape communication.”

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