Chimpanzees can gesture for hunting, says a new study.
Chimpanzees can gesture for hunting, says a new study.Reuters

Chimpanzees can use gestures to communicate with other chimpanzees while they hunt for food, a new study has revealed.

Researchers at Georgia State University's Language Research Center say that the primates can use gestures to coordinate actions in pursuit of a specific goal.

As part of the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, two language-trained chimpanzees (named Panzee and Sherman) and a human experimenter were put on a task to find hidden food.

According to researchers, the human did not know where the food was and the chimpanzees used gestures such as pointing to guide the experimenter to the food.

The study provides "some of the most compelling evidence to date for the role of communicative flexibility in successful coordination in nonhumans," researchers noted in their report.

The research also points to the capabilities of primates in collaborating for a goal that cannot be achieved individually.

"Because of the openness of this paradigm, the findings illustrate the high level of intentionality chimpanzees are capable of, including their use of directional gestures. This study adds to our understanding of how well chimpanzees can remember and communicate about their environment," Dr. Charles Menzel, a senior research scientist at the Language Research Center, said in a statement.

"It allows the chimpanzees to communicate information in the manner of their choosing, but also requires them to initiate and to persist in communication."

The researchers said that the study findings are also important because they provide an important link to understanding the evolution of language.

"The use of gestures to coordinate joint activities such as finding food may have been an important building block in the evolution of language," Anna Roberts of the University of Chester said.