How to speak chimpanzee

Originally published at:


Sounds like a great project, thanks for this interesting post.

It doesn’t seem like a coincidence though that every other hominin that might have shared homo sapiens’ abilities in crazy-complicated communication is extinct. :thinking: Like the “are you talking to me” theory of hominin extinctions.


Unfortunately, Earth is unlikely to survive the first chimpanzee takeover, much less last long enough for a second.


I find it interesting that one chimp touching another chimp’s arm is considered a submissive gesture whereas for humans it’s often the opposite.


I would guess chimps imitate human gestures too-- for example when they were holding out their hands as the fruit was being tossed to them, is that common chimp behavior, or did they pick that up from the humans they see every day in the zoo?

Earth will be just fine, it’s us Homo Sapiens that are unlikely to survive :slight_smile:

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I read a number of articles years ago about teaching chimps sign language, and how fluent they became with it. Has that been discredited as kluge Hans syndrome?

There will be a third planet from the sun, but it won’t be much like what we called Earth.

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I found this article relevant because I just finished reading the second volume of David Brin’s Uplift trilogy.

I was going to suggest watching Trump vids, but chimps are smarter.

See also: Bonobo, Gorilla

I noticed it wasn’t just the touch but it was combined with a sort of shy turn away gesture. Almost like humans saying “aw hey man just kidding, I’m sorry”. This all makes such intuitive sense to me. So much of human interaction is non verbal and changes from once social or cultural group to another.
Sometimes gestures that are completely foreign become ubiquitous and accepted, like how Americans started doing the extended arm peace finger gesture when posing for photos that started with Japanese teenagers. I feel like if I hung out with those chimps a few days I’d start to understand all that communication. It’s kinda how our primate social brains function. We’re very similar.


This made the rounds recently, and if nothing else convinces you that the small percentage of difference in our DNA really doesn’t mean much…

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