News FocusChimpanzee Research Today

Talking Chimp to Chimp

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Science  02 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5974, pp. 36-37
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5974.36

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Researchers are conducting the most intensive studies ever done to try to unravel the meaning of chimpanzee pant-hoots, grunts, screams, and whimpers. Although much work has been done studying communication in wild monkeys and captive chimps, wild chimpanzee vocalizations have received surprisingly little formal analysis. Decoding chimpanzee communication has proven much trickier than decoding that of other primate species in part because of their forested habitat. But the researchers have far more ambitious aims than simply decoding vocalizations that approximate words or capture an emotional state. They want to figure out how chimpanzees navigate their complex social environment.