The Development of the Communication System of Chimpanzees during Ontogenesis

DOI: 10.14673/HE2015341008
Published in Human Evolution – Vol. 30 – n.3-4 – 2015

Key words: communication complexes, chimpanzees, ontogenesis, communication systems.

Abstract
The objective of this study was to compare the communication processes of young and adult chimpanzees, to establish how the development of communication modes in the ontogenesis of these primates unfolds and to determine possible preconditions for the origin of hominid speech in the course of anthropogenesis.
Systems of communication were studied in 9 chimpanzees: 3 adult females, 3 adult males, and 3 young chimpanzees. The chimpanzees were from the Saint Petersburg zoo and the laboratory for the physiology of primate behaviour at the Pavlov Institute of Physiology in the village of Koltushi in the Leningrad region.
Communicative behaviour was observed with the use of specially devised matrices that considered virtually all elements of communication (facial expressions, postures, gestures, tactile elements, acoustic signals etc.).
The author discovered that communication in chimpanzees serves as a very important mechanism for increasing the sociability of group members. The most significant elements were those that belonged to friendly contexts conveyed via acoustic and visual communication channels. Friendly gestures were accompanied by friendly sounds, connection between friendly visual and acoustic communication strengthened. In aggressive contexts, the author noted harmonic sounds, and in friendly ones, mixed articulatory sounds like ‘ah’, ‘oh’, ‘ooh’. The elements of communication complexes were not very variable and were used as established communication units. The communication process was quite labile and the communicative systems were characterized by great individual variability.

Vasilyev, S.V.
Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology,  
Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninskiy pr. 32a, 119991 Moscow, Russia.
E-mail: vasbor1@yandex.ru

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Pages: 39
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