A longitudinal investigation of gestural communication in young chimpanzees


Journal Article

A longitudinal study of chimpanzee gestural communication is reported. Subjects were seven 5- to 8-year-old members of a semi-natural group at the Yerkes Field Station. These were the same individuals observed by Tomasello et al. (1985) four years previously. Nearly identical operational definitions and observational procedures were used in the two studies. Longitudinal comparisons between the two observation periods revealed that the development of chimpanzee gestural communication is best characterized as a series of ontogenetic adaptations: as particular social functions (e.g., nursing, playing, grooming, etc.) arise, decline, or change, gestural communication follows suit. Most gestures seem to be conventionalized by individuals in direct social interaction with conspecifics. Some gestures may be learned by "second-person imitation"-an individual copying a behavior directed to it by another individual. No evidence was found for "third-person imitation"-an individual copying a gesture used between two other individuals. Implications for the concept of chimpanzee "culture" are discussed. © 1989 Japan Monkey Centre.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Tomasello, M; Gust, D; Frost, GT

Published Date

  • January 1, 1989

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 30 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 35 - 50

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1610-7365

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0032-8332

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/BF02381209

Citation Source

  • Scopus