Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Bonobo and chimpanzee gestures overlap extensively in meaning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Kirsty E. Graham, Catherine Hobaiter, James Ounsley, Takeshi Furuichi, Richard W. Byrne

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Cross-species comparison of great ape gesturing has so far been limited to the physical form of gestures in the repertoire, without questioning whether gestures share the same meanings. Researchers have recently catalogued the meanings of chimpanzee gestures, but little is known about the gesture meanings of our other closest living relative, the bonobo. The bonobo gestural repertoire overlaps by approximately 90% with that of the chimpanzee, but such overlap might not extend to meanings. Here, we first determine the meanings of bonobo gestures by analysing the outcomes of gesturing that apparently satisfy the signaller. Around half of bonobo gestures have a single meaning, while half are more ambiguous. Moreover, all but 1 gesture type have distinct meanings, achieving a different distribution of intended meanings to the average distribution for all gesture types. We then employ a randomisation procedure in a novel way to test the likelihood that the observed between-species overlap in the assignment of meanings to gestures would arise by chance under a set of different constraints. We compare a matrix of the meanings of bonobo gestures with a matrix for those of chimpanzees against 10,000 randomised iterations of matrices constrained to the original data at 4 different levels. We find that the similarity between the 2 species is much greater than would be expected by chance. Bonobos and chimpanzees share not only the physical form of the gestures but also many gesture meanings.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2004825
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS Biology
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2018

    Research areas

  • Bonobos, Chimpanzees, Semiotics, Animal signaling and communication, Apes, Analysis of variance, Acoustic signals, Permutation

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. The animal origins of disgust: reports of basic disgust in nonhuman great apes

    Case, T. I., Stevenson, R. J., Byrne, R. W. & Hobaiter, C., 23 May 2019, In : Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. Online First

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Great ape gestures. Intentional communication with a rich set of innate signals

    Byrne, R. W., Cartmill, E., Genty, E., Graham, K. E., Hobaiter, C. L. & Tanner, J., Jul 2017, In : Animal Cognition. 20, 4, p. 755-769

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. PLoS Biology (Journal)

    Sophie Caroline Smout (Reviewer)
    1 Apr 201730 Apr 2017

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  2. PLoS Biology (Journal)

    Sophie Caroline Smout (Reviewer)
    20112012

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

Related by journal

  1. Shining new light on mammalian diving physiology using wearable near-infrared spectroscopy

    McKnight, J. C., Bennett, K., Bronkhorst, M., Russell, D. JF., Balfour, S., Milne, R., Bivins, M., Moss, S. E. W., Colier, W., Hall, A. J. & Thompson, D., 18 Jun 2019, In : PLoS Biology. 17, 6, 20 p., e3000306.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Molecular regionalization of the developing amphioxus neural tube challenges major partitions of the vertebrate brain

    Albuixech-Crespo, B., López-Blanch, L., Burguera, D., Maeso, I., Sánchez Arrones, L., Moreno-Bravo, J. A., Somorjai, I., Pascual-Anaya, J., Puelles, E., Bovolenta, P., Garcia-Fernàndez, J., Puelles, L., Irimia, M. & Ferran, J. L., 19 Apr 2017, In : PLoS Biology. 15, 4, 34 p., e2001573.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. An estimate of the total DNA in the biosphere

    Landenmark, H. K. E., Forgan, D. H. & Cockell, C. S., 11 Jun 2015, In : PLoS Biology. 13, 6, p. 1-10 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Ancient and novel small RNA pathways compensate for the loss of piRNAs in multiple independent nematode lineages

    Sarkies, P., Selkirk, M. E., Jones, J. T., Blok, V., Boothby, T., Goldstein, B., Hanelt, B., Ardila-Garcia, A., Fast, N. M., Schiffer, P. M., Kraus, C., Taylor, M. J., Koutsovoulos, G., Blaxter, M. L. & Miska, E. A., 10 Feb 2015, In : PLoS Biology. 13, 2, 20 p., e1002061.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 251797089