There’s a big controversy over whether chimps and other primates can really be taught to “talk,” using sign language and key pads?or if they are only copying their keepers in order to please them and get treats. Now a new research team claims that a chimp who has grown up with humans has developed the ability to talk. Kanzi, an adult pygmy chimp who lives at Georgia State University in Atlanta, can communicate by pointing at symbols, but he also makes noises while interacting with humans. Researcher Joel Taglialatela says, “We haven’t taught him this?he’s doing it on his own.”

The scientists studied hours of videotape of Kanzi and found that he makes four distinct sounds to go along with specific actions. They think he has created a vocabulary of words that mean “banana,” “grapes,” “juice,” and “yes.” These word sounds stayed the same, even when Kanzi was in various emotional states.

Primatologists believe there must be evidence of some kind of primitive language ability among primates?or else how did we evolve to learn language? John Mitani says, “There have to be evolutionary precursors to what we do. We are beginning to find them in the primate world.”

Animal or human, we’re all united by a secret source of energy. Maybe we can learn how to use it soon!

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