By Amanda Shore
Humans and gorillas, both part of the Great Ape family, use forms of “baby talk.” In this trait, we are unique from other apes. A new study has shown that gorillas that are at least 3 years old use specific nonverbal cues to communicate with baby gorillas. The adults will use and repeat these cues and use touch to communicate with their young. These cues are different from the way that more mature gorillas will communicate with each other.
When the gorillas stop using this baby sign language to communicate with the young of their species, it shows that they understand what the baby’s maturity level is.
This form of communication was noticed by Dr. Eva Maria Luef and Dr. Katja Liebal. They were filming western lowland gorillas in the UK. “We were surprised that … infants are addressed differently,” said Luef.
Some new studies are showing that rhesus monkeys have a different vocalization when they speak to their young. With this new information, scientists may find many other species that communicate with their babies in similar ways.