Secrets of orangutan language revealed

phys.org | 9/17/2019 | Staff
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"Climb on me", "climb on you" and "resume play" are among the requests wild orangutans make to each other, researchers say.

In the first in-depth study of gestures among wild orangutans, University of Exeter scientists identified 11 vocal signals and 21 physical "gesture types".

Sounds - Squeak - Noise - Grumph - Sound

Sounds included the "kiss squeak" (a sharp kiss noise created while inhaling), the "grumph" (a low sound lasting one or two seconds made on the inhale), the "gorkum" (a kiss squeak followed by a series of multiple grumphs) and the "raspberry".

Gestures included beckoning, stamping, pushing out a lower lip, shaking objects and "presenting" a body part.

Findings - Reveal - Orangutans - Communication - %

The findings reveal orangutans are highly responsive to communication, reacting either before gesturing ended or in less than a second in 90% of communications (excluding those where they didn't notice the communication).

"We observed orangutans using sounds and gestures to achieve eight different 'goals' – things they wanted another orangutan to do," said University of Exeter scientist Dr. Helen Morrogh-Bernard, founder and co-director of the Bornean Nature Foundation (BNF).

Orangutans - Apes - Studies - African - Apes

"Orangutans are the most solitary of all the apes, which is why most studies have been done on African apes, and not much is known about wild orangutan gestures.

"We spent two years filming more than 600 hours of footage of orangutans in the Sabangau peat swamp forest in Borneo, Indonesia.

Findings

"While some of our findings...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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