Individual data (visual and audio-visual signals; height of the hand; mouth opening) from The higher the farther: distance-specific referential gestures in chimpanzees (<i>Pan troglodytes</i>)

Referential signals, such as manual pointing or deictic words, allow individuals to efficiently locate a specific entity in the environment, using distance-specific linguistic and/or gestural units. To explore the evolutionary prerequisites of such deictic ability, the present study investigates the ability of chimpanzees to adjust their communicative signals to the distance of a referent. A food-request paradigm in which the chimpanzees had to request a close or distant piece of food on a table in the presence/absence of an experimenter was employed. Our main finding concerns the chimpanzees adjusting their requesting behaviours to the distance of the food such that higher manual gestures and larger mouth openings were used to request the distant piece of food. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that chimpanzees are able to use distance-specific gestures.