News and Perspectives

Primates

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 199-202

First online:

Do bonobos say NO by shaking their head?

  • Christel SchneiderAffiliated withEvolutionary Psychology, Freie Universität BerlinDepartment of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Email author 
  • , Josep CallAffiliated withDepartment of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
  • , Katja LiebalAffiliated withEvolutionary Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin

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Abstract

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.

Keywords

Communication Gestures Head shaking Pan paniscus