Supplementary material from "Language as a tool for social bonding evolved from gestures: evidence from wild chimpanzee gestural, vocal and bimodal signals"

Posted on 23.06.2022 - 09:53
The evolution of language has fascinated anthropologists, psychologists and biologists for centuries, seeking to infer language origins from the communication of primates, our closest living relatives. Capacity for intentional signalling is a key feature of transition to language in our hominin ancestors, facilitating complex social dynamics in complex social groups. However whether vocal, gestural and bimodal signals are differentiated according to intentional use and hence complex sociality has not been studied, making unclear the modality of language evolution. We addressed this question in wild chimpanzees. We found that larger social network size was associated with a larger network of gestural but not vocal or bimodal signals. Response waiting was more common in association with gestures than vocalizations, but elaborations were more common in vocal than gestural or bimodal signals. Overall, chimpanzees were more likely to manage weak social bonds through vocalizations, whereas strong social bonds were managed through gestures and bimodal signals. However, when social bonds were weak, gestures accompanied by response waiting were more likely to elicit approaches than vocalizations accompanied by elaboration, which elicited avoidance. This suggests that gestures were the primary modality of language evolution and that the use of more sophisticated gestural signalling led to evolution of complex social groups of hominin ancestors.This article is part of the theme issue ‘Cognition, communication and social bonds in primates’.

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Damjanovic, Ljubica; Roberts, Sam G. B.; Roberts, Anna Ilona (2022): Supplementary material from "Language as a tool for social bonding evolved from gestures: evidence from wild chimpanzee gestural, vocal and bimodal signals". The Royal Society. Collection. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.6060702.v1
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