How great an ape are you?

Our group has been studying great ape behaviour for over 20-years and across chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, and orang-utans; but it’s the first time that we’re getting human great apes in on the picture! (As you might be able to tell we’re *really* excited!)

DO YOU SPEAK CHIMPANZEE? CAN YOU GESTURE LIKE A BONOBO?

Using our long-term studies we have been able to show that many of the gesture types that great apes use to communicate with other apes are shared across the species – in chimpanzees and bonobos it’s almost 100% – but it’s been tough to work out how humans fit into the picture. Humans use gestures – as well as language, sounds, facial expressions, body postures, and more – to communicate. But if we wanted to communicate the sort of requests that great apes use their gestures for: come here! I want that! come with me! or even go away! we use language. So we’re trying a little cross-species communication… If many great ape gestures, and perhaps the gesture meanings, are shared across all the other apes that suggests that they may have a very old evolutionary origin. So it’s possible that while modern humans use language to communicate the same requests we might still be able to recognise the gestures and what they mean in other apes.

In our Great Ape Dictionary experiment, hosted by Gorilla.sc, you see a series of gesture videos and choose what you think they mean. We are testing human understanding of great ape gestures, to see whether people can understand the great ape gestures without any training.

Our data collection is now finished (thank you!) but so many people enjoyed taking this study we’ve left it up as an on-line quiz! You can play for fun here; there are a few different versions so feel free to try it out a few times and see how you do!

Did you catch our study on BBC Animal Einsteins recently? If you’re curious to find out how you would do the BBC have also set up a mini-version of our gesture quiz here – have fun!


CAN YOU TELL IF TWO CHIMPANZEES ARE RELATED JUST By LOOKING AT THEIR PHOTOS?

In our experiment, hosted by Gorilla.sc, you will see a photo of a chimpanzee and four possible matches. Can you tell who is related to who? Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters – they’re all there! Humans can recognise biological relatives through facial features; we want to explore how kin-based facial recognition evolved in humans and other primates.

DATA COLLECTION NOW FINISHED – THANK YOU!

Before the experiment begins, you will be asked for consent and given detailed instructions. You can contact us if you have any questions or concerns about the experiment. Enjoy!