Tuesday 20 November 2018

Babies share 96pc of gestures with apes


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Sarah Knapton

Parents often describe young children as little monkeys, but now scientists have confirmed that toddlers are "just tiny apes" sharing 96pc of the same gestures.

Researchers at the University of St Andrews in Scotland have discovered that before children learn how to talk, they use a range of hand and body movements to communicate in the same way as chimpanzees and gorillas.

The study, published in 'Animal Cognition', found children aged one and two used 52 gestures including head shaking, poking, stomping, hitting themselves and throwing objects.

They also discovered that 50 of those movements are shared with apes, suggesting they may have been used for millions of years in our evolutionary past. Senior author Dr Catherine Hobaiter, from the school of psychology and neuroscience at the university, said: "Wild chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and orangutans all use gestures to communicate their day-to-day requests, but until now there was always one ape missing from the picture - us. We used exactly the same approach to study young chimpanzees and children, which makes sense - children are just tiny apes."

Wild great apes are known to use more than 80 different gestures. Dr Hobaiter said: "We thought that we might find a few of these gestures - reaching out your palm to ask for something or sticking your hand up in the air - but we were amazed to see so many of the 'ape' gestures were used by the children." (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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