Everyone has one person in their life who must bid every single person adieu when leaving a party. It winds up taking another hour to circle through the crowd. Meanwhile you’re standing at the door making eyes that say, “Mom, you said you’d only be five minutes!” Well, somewhere in the world, a bonobo is also wishing its mom would hurry up and say goodbye. Because a new study just revealed that some of our primate cousins also use specific acknowledgements when greeting or saying goodbye.
In a study published in iScience, researchers found that chimpanzees and bonobos have specific signals they use with their bodies to communicate with one another. Much like humans do. (We first saw this at Boing Boing.)
The researchers studied more than 1,200 interactions between chimpanzees and bonobos. In the study they found that the primates “frequently exchanged mutual gaze and communicative signals prior to and after engaging in joint activities with conspecifics, demonstrating entry and exit phases comparable to those of human joint activities.”
Bonobos, specifically, had a pattern that more closely resembles human interaction. Namely the type of interaction depended on the relationship, be it close friend or loose acquaintance. Speaking with CNN, Raphaela Heesen, the study’s lead researcher, likened the interaction to the level of politeness humans have with friends. As, after all, our familiarity greatly impacts the way we communicate. She calls this kind of interaction the “glue to [humans’] success as a species.” But the “groundwork” exists in other species as well. Not exclusively in humans, as previously thought. Seeing this type of interaction between the primates also opens the doors into researching which other animals communicate similarly.
For every human who favors the ol’ Irish goodbye, I’m sure they have a chimp or bonobo counterpart to commiserate with. Meanwhile, I highly recommend checking out the whole study, which you can find here. It’s really quite a fascinating look at some of our closest cousins.