10 Fun Facts about Chimpanzee Communication

Written By: Dani Sarusi, Coordinator, Community Engagement, JGI Canada
Category: Great Apes

Like humans, chimpanzees use a variety of verbal and non-verbal methods to communicate and are able to express a wide range of messages and emotions. Here are 10 fun facts about chimpanzee communication.

10. Food calls include a mixture of grunts, barks, and pant-hoots, which alert other chimpanzees to the whereabouts of food sources. A special intensity of excited calls of this type indicates that there has been a successful kill after a hunt.

Listen

9. A loud, long “wraaaa” call is made when a chimpanzee comes across something unusual or dangerous.

Listen

8. When young chimpanzees play, they emit breathy laughter. And soft grunts uttered by foraging or resting chimpanzees probably serve to maintain communication within the group.

7. A chimp’s body is very similar to a human’s. We have the same bones,muscles, nervous system and the same number of fingers and toes.

6. Chimpanzees see and experience the world much as we do. Their sense of sight, smell, hearing and touch are very similar to our own.

5. One of Dr. Jane Goodall’s most important discoveries was that chimpanzees use tools. While we may not use them to forage for tasty termites like our primate relatives, they sure do come in handy for just about everything else!

4. As children, we are taught to share. Did you know that chimpanzees share their food and tools?

3. One of the earliest discoveries made by Jane Goodall was that chimpanzees hunt for meat. Just like humans, they do this in groups.

2. Like humans, chimpanzees use body language to communicate. They kiss, hug, pat each other on the back, hold hands and shake their fists.

1. Chimpanzees not only communicate like humans, they also demonstrate a range of emotions including joy, sadness, fear and even empathy.

There are of course many differences between the two species—we stand on two legs, have larger brains and are relatively hairless. But as we discover more and more about our intelligent and playful cousins in the animal kingdom, it is worth reflecting on the astounding number of characteristics we share rather than the differences that separate us. Just as humans deserve safety, protection and love, chimpanzees do too.