Chimpanzees and bonobos can communicate with greater flexibility using hand gestures than they can with facial expressions or vocalizations, new research shows. Their use of hand motions to convey different meanings in different circumstances suggests that gestures may have played an important part in the evolution of language.
Researchers speculate about how prehuman species developed the capacity for complex language. One theory suggests that humans' apelike ancestors first communicated through gestures. Once the neural circuits for gesture-based language had evolved, those same brain areas could have switched over to verbal communication. Indeed, research has shown that modern apes use the same