CHIMPANZEES – Communication

One of the most striking similarities between chimpanzees and humans is the way that chimps communicate. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

ambience: Goodall’s “Pant Hoot”

That, in fact, was not a chimpanzee, but Jane Goodall, doing her rendition of what’s called a “pant hoot.” Dr. Goodall has been studying chimpanzees for over 30 years.

ambience Gombe Reserve

“Chimps communicate with postures and gestures. And here we have some of the most uncanny similarities to ourselves. They kiss, embrace, hold hands, pat one another on the back, and not only are these gestures similar to many of ours, but also we find them occurring in the same context, such as greeting. They also communicate with a rich repertoire of calls, probably around 50 different, distinct calls, each of which means something different to the individual hearing it.”

“It’s complicated, the understanding or the interpretation of their vocal communication: firstly by the fact that there’s a sort of gradation of sounds, and a whimper blends into a bark blends into a pant hoot; secondly by the fact that each chimpanzee has his or her own distinct individual voice.”

“One major question that we’re trying to answer is the extent to which chimpanzees can communicate with sounds across distance when they’re out of sight of each other. And this is in light of the fact that we know captive chimps can be taught 300 or more signs of the American sign language of the deaf, and can use these in very meaningful ways and new contexts. So they clearly have the cognitive ability for a more sophisticated language than they actually appear to use in the wild.”

Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation.

CHIMPANZEES - Communication

When it comes to communication, chimpanzees and humans have certain behaviors in common.
Air Date:11/11/1992
Scientist:
Transcript:

One of the most striking similarities between chimpanzees and humans is the way that chimps communicate. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

ambience: Goodall's "Pant Hoot"

That, in fact, was not a chimpanzee, but Jane Goodall, doing her rendition of what's called a "pant hoot." Dr. Goodall has been studying chimpanzees for over 30 years.

ambience Gombe Reserve

"Chimps communicate with postures and gestures. And here we have some of the most uncanny similarities to ourselves. They kiss, embrace, hold hands, pat one another on the back, and not only are these gestures similar to many of ours, but also we find them occurring in the same context, such as greeting. They also communicate with a rich repertoire of calls, probably around 50 different, distinct calls, each of which means something different to the individual hearing it."

"It's complicated, the understanding or the interpretation of their vocal communication: firstly by the fact that there's a sort of gradation of sounds, and a whimper blends into a bark blends into a pant hoot; secondly by the fact that each chimpanzee has his or her own distinct individual voice."

"One major question that we're trying to answer is the extent to which chimpanzees can communicate with sounds across distance when they're out of sight of each other. And this is in light of the fact that we know captive chimps can be taught 300 or more signs of the American sign language of the deaf, and can use these in very meaningful ways and new contexts. So they clearly have the cognitive ability for a more sophisticated language than they actually appear to use in the wild."

Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation.