Gorillas use a nonvocal form of "baby talk" to communicate with infants, a new study says. A first among primates, the discovery may give insight into how similar human communication evolved.

While researching how captive gorillas communicate during play, study leader Eva Maria Luef noticed that animals older than three years had a special way of interacting with younger gorillas.

With infants, the older gorillas used touch and repeated gestures—such as grabbing or stroking the infant's jaw—more frequently than they did when communicating with their peers.

"We were surprised that ... [gorilla] infants are addressed differently," said Luef, of the Department of Education and Psychology at Berlin's Freie University.

The behavior is evidence of a "gestural motherese," according to the study, published in June in the Journal of American Primatology.

Human motherese, or baby talk, is a universal mode of connection between adults and infants. Regardless of their language, people baby-talk in the same way, with a raised pitch and a swooping, sing-song style.

So far, the rhesus macaque is the only nonhuman primate known to use vocal baby talk.

Researchers have found that gorillas older than three years will use a modified form of nonvocal cues when interacting with babies. Specifically, the adult gorillas will repeat their gestures and touch more when communicating.

VIDEO Gorilla Baby Talk Is All About The Gestures

Responses to "Gorillas Seen Using "Baby Talk" Gestures—A First (Video)"

  1. The first one with the juvenile and infant was like Hey you have to learn sometime, grab the rope. Second one was like patting his head, don't do that and love the third clip of playing.

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