The study involved showing thousands of volunteers videos of monkeys and asking them to interpret the meaning behind the gestures. The participants were able to correctly interpret the meaning of chimpanzee and bonobo gestures in over half of the cases, which is a much better result than if they were just guessing.
This suggests that the ability to understand these gestures is something that we have inherited from our shared ancestor with chimpanzees. The researchers believe that these gestures may have been the starting point for human language.
All great apes have a 95% overlap in the gestures they use to communicate and scientists suspect that this was a characteristic of our last shared ancestor from evolution. The lead researcher, Kirsty Graham, says that the study confirms that our shared ancestors started with these gestures, which then became part of language, which is why we understand the gestures intuitively.
The findings of the research were published in the scientific journal PLOS Biology, and the results of the study have important implications for the study of language evolution and the relationship between humans and other primates. The study provides a new understanding of how we communicate and how our language has evolved over time.