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Background

Human societies exhibit a rich array of gestures with cultural origins. Often these gestures are found exclusively in local populations, where their meaning has been crafted by a community into a shared convention. In nonhuman primates like African monkeys, little evidence exists for such culturally-conventionalized gestures.

Methodology-Principal Findings

Here I report a striking gesture unique to a single community of mandrills Mandrillus sphinx among nineteen studied across North America, Africa, and Europe. The gesture was found within a community of 23 mandrills where individuals old and young, female and male covered their eyes with their hands for periods which could exceed 30 min, often while simultaneously raising their elbow prominently into the air. This ‘Eye covering’ gesture has been performed within the community for a decade, enduring deaths, removals, and births, and it persists into the present. Differential responses to Eye covering versus controls suggested that the gesture might have a locally-respected meaning, potentially functioning over a distance to inhibit interruptions as a ‘do not disturb’ sign operates.

Conclusions-Significance

The creation of this gesture by monkeys suggests that the ability to cultivate shared meanings using novel manual acts may be distributed more broadly beyond the human species. Although logistically difficult with primates, the translocation of gesturers between communities remains critical to experimentally establishing the possible cultural origin and transmission of nonhuman gestures.



Autor: Mark E. Laidre

Fuente: http://plos.srce.hr/



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