, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 199–202

Do bonobos say NO by shaking their head?

News and Perspectives

DOI: 10.1007/s10329-010-0198-2

Cite this article as:
Schneider, C., Call, J. & Liebal, K. Primates (2010) 51: 199. doi:10.1007/s10329-010-0198-2


Head-shaking gestures are commonly used by African great apes to solicit activities such as play. Here, we report observations of head shaking in four bonobos apparently aimed at preventing the recipient from doing something. This may reflect a primitive precursor of the negatively connoted head-shaking behavior in humans. Further investigations are needed to clarify the preventive function of head shakes and their evolutionary role in the evolution of negation in humans.


CommunicationGesturesHead shakingPan paniscus

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© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Evolutionary PsychologyFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of Developmental and Comparative PsychologyMax Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany