Washoe yawning

This is a picture of the famous chimpanzee Washoe yawning while sitting in the outdoor area of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI) of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, USA. The picture was taken one morning in Fall 1995 during one of my visits to the CHCI for my dissertation study. Though my eventual conclusion on the chimpanzees’ signing was that their sign use cannot be considered linguistic, it is important to recognize the many similarities we humans have with other apes. One of them is yawning, as in the picture. It was always quite impressive to see the chimps yawn, as you got a good look at their big teeth and molars, dangerous weapons with which they can bite off fingers of uncautious, overenthousiastic humans, and with which they kill red colobus monkeys when the chimps hunt in the wild. Another observation I made several times at the CHCI is that the chimps cough just like we do when they have a cold. In fact, the cough’s sound was very similar to a human cough, which surprised me when I first heard it. Humans and other animals share similarities and differences with each other. It’s important to recognize both if we want to respect animals for what they are and treat them accordingly in an egalitarian manner. Find out more about Washoe and the other signing chimps by registering for one of my Communication and language in animals courses!

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Filed under General, Language research with animals, Lectures and courses

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