Meaningful Informational Exchange and Pantomime in Chimpanzees and Bonobos: Implications for Proto-Language in Hominins

DOI: 10.14673/HE2015341007
Published in Human Evolution – Vol. 30 – n.3-4 – 2015

Key words: Informational-exchange, communication, music, pantomime, Pan, Hominin, chimpanzee, bonobo.

Abstract
The various modes of meaningful informational exchange exhibited by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (Pan paniscus), from the very basic to the complex, are surveyed in comparison to humans, and hypothesized for extinct hominins. Signaling by facial expressions, body language and manual gestures are demonstrated for message transmission, whereas iconographic mark-making and miming are described as more advanced means of communication (requiring high mental competency and developed spatial mapping). Music, vocal control and vocal learning are exemplified as another complex means of conveying context specific bilateral messages. Moreover, personal, social and cultural consequences of the different informational exchange modes in Pan are dealt with in comparison to humans (e.g., individual versus group identity, selfhood and personality). The Pan subjects described in this study include bonobos and chimpanzees from different sanctuaries and zoos in three continents, thus providing a broad vision on the communicational repertoire of captive Pan. This essay confirms that Pan possess all the essential attributes required for hominin-type communication and argues that as such they should be allowed to fulfill their potential as sister species to humans. We propose that further studies conducted in captivity and in the wild will enable the construction of a lexicon for Pan proto-language, and thus promote the development of a Pan/human dialog through alliance building.

Roffman, I.
Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa,
199 Aba Khoushy Ave., Mount Carmel, Haifa 3498838, Israel.
E-mail: iroffman@gmail.com

Peleg, G.
Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa,
199 Aba Khoushy Ave., Mount Carmel, Haifa 3498838, Israel.
E-mail: gili.peleg@gmail.com

Stadler, A.
Zoo Wuppertal, Wuppertal 42117, Germany.
Email: Andre.Stadler@stadt. wuppertal.de

Nevo, E.
Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa,
199 Aba Khoushy Ave., Mount Carmel, Haifa 3498838, Israel.
E-mail: nevo@research.haifa.ac.il

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