A recent scientific observation has revealed that Bonobos apes babble like human toddlers to communicate, proving that this species of chimpanzees is much more evolved than researchers initially thought. The noises that these wild animals make prove apes have communication flexibility, a trait that was initially considered specific for humans.
Dr Zanna Clay, an expert at the University of Birmingham, has carried out the recent experiment by observing Bonobos apes within their natural habitat, that is, in the Republic of Congo. Although chimpanzees, a distant relative of the Bonobos apes, have been studied many times before, this Congo-based species has been somewhat ignored by the science community and little is now known about them.
Clay has teamed up with psychologists at the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland to make new discoveries in relation to this species. They have, thus, travelled to the Republic of Congo and kept a close eye on the animals as they performed various activities, such as, feeding, playing, fighting, etc.
At the end of the study, researchers have concluded that the same acoustic string could take different meanings, depending on the context in which they are used. This means the Bonobos apes have a special ability called “functional flexibility”. This linguistic ability makes apes unique because only humans have the same capacity to utter different meanings using the same acoustic signals.
Humans acquire this ability when they are very young, particularly during their first months. It is how babies communicate with adults letting them know that they are afraid or hungry, even though they only make squeaks.
Psychologists, who have taken part in the new study have been very impressed with the new findings that Clay has made. In their opinion, the experiment has proven, once again, that animals could be much more evolved than humans believe. In addition, the experiment shows there are many more similarities between various species of apes and humans.
While the study has improved the status of the Bonobos apes, it has also weakened the good reputation of humans. In Clay’s opinion, humans could have inherited this “functional ability” from more evolved species in the past – a finding that undermines all our previous beliefs.
Image source: washingtonpost.com
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