The Atlantic

Can Humans Understand Chimps?

Scientists have found a way to measure if people intuitively know what ape gestures mean.
Source: Colin Braley / Reuters
In the video I’m watching, a chimpanzee reaches out and lightly grabs its partner’s mouth. “Give me that,” it might be saying. Or perhaps, “Stop it.” In another scene, two chimps are sitting in a tree and one of them shakes a branch. Perhaps it wants to be groomed, or followed, or carried. In yet another clip, a chimp holds out its hand. Is it seeking companionship, asking for food, or demanding sex?

The videos are part of the Great Ape Dictionary, an led by Cat Hobaiter and Kirsty Graham from the University of St.

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