New research shows that gestures used by chimpanzees follow the same rules as human language. Are we really so different?

It’s a bit garbled but you can definitely hear it in the mobile phone footage. As the chimpanzees arrange their branches into a makeshift ladder and one of them makes its daring escape from its Belfast zoo enclosure, some words ring out loud and clear: “Don’t escape, you bad little gorilla!” a child onlooker shouts from the crowd. And … POP … with that a tiny explosion goes off inside my head. Something knocks me back about this sentence. It’s a “kids-say-the-funniest things” kind of sentence, and in any other situation I’d offer a warm smile and a chuckle of approval. But not this time. This statement has brought out the pedant in me.

Related: Chimps use branch as ladder to escape Belfast zoo enclosure

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Read More Chimpanzees ‘talk’ just like humans. It’s time to realise how similar we are | Jules Howard

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