Thursday, 6 June 2013

Human and Chimpanzee Infants Share Gestures

Gestures of Human and Ape Infants Are More Similar Than You Might Expect | Surprising Science.

More evidence was reported today, this time by the world-renowned Smithsonian Institute's blog, Surprising Science, that humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor. Marina Koren was reporting on a paper published today in the on-line journal Frontiers in Comparative Psychology.

In 1879 Charles Darwin had said, in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals that humans all have the same gestures in common, regardless of culture. Closer examination has shown that this was not strictly true but never-the-less we do have very many gestures in common.

Now this study has shown that not only do humans have many gestures in common, but we also share many gestures in common with our closest relatives, the chimpanzee and the bonobo. This is especially true of the basic gestures which precede language in infants such as pointing and holding up arms to ask to be picked up.
To pick up on these behaviors, the team studied three babies of differing species through videos taken over a number of months. The child stars of these videos included a chimpanzee named Panpanzee, a bonobo called Panbanisha and a human girl, identified as GN. The apes were raised together at the Georgia State University Language Research Center in Atlanta, where researchers study language and cognitive processes in chimps, monkeys and humans. There, Panpanzee and Panbanisha were taught to communicate with their human caregivers using gestures, noises and lexigrams, abstract symbols that represent words. The human child grew up in her family’s home, where her parents facilitated her learning.

Researchers filmed the child’s development for seven months, starting when she was 11 months old, while the apes were taped from 12 months of age to 26 months. In the early stages of the study, the observed gestures were of a communicative nature: all three infants engaged in the behavior with the intention of conveying how their emotions and needs. They made eye contact with their caregivers, added non-verbal vocalizations to their movements or exerted physical effort to elicit a response...

The researchers speculate that the matching behaviors can be traced to the last shared ancestor of humans, chimps and bonobos, who lived between four and seven million years ago. That ancestor probably exhibited the same early gestures, which all three species then inherited. When the species diverged, humans managed to build on this communicative capacity by eventually graduating to speech. Read more...
One wonders how creationists loons will explain this in terms of spontaneous creation in a single day with humans being created separate from and apart from the other animals. It's strange that humans share so much with the other apes such as (especially) the two chimpanzees and the gorilla, which are not shared by other species when you would expect exactly the opposite to be the case if humans are a distinct form of life. You would expect all the other animals to maybe share things in common but why would human and chimpanzee infants be so similar, at least until human children learn to speak and tend to replace gestures with words.

Gestures of Human and Ape Infants Are More Similar Than You Might Expect; Marina Koren 7 June 2013.

A cross-species study of gesture and its role in symbolic development: Implications for the gestural theory of language evolution; Gillespie-Lynch, Kristen, et al; Front. Psychol., 06 June 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00160
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1 comment :

  1. I am not an ape, I am not an ape is how they will respond ;)

    This is interesting research and its good that it comes out. People like to dismiss this ape link on the "i am not an ape" grounds. But we need to accept that we are all apes (more specifically great apes), we just are on a different evolutionary path.


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