Do bonobos say NO by shaking their head?

Christel Schneider, Josep Call, Katja Liebal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (SciVal)


Head-shaking gestures are commonly used by African great apes to solicit activities such as play. Here, we report observations of head shaking in four bonobos apparently aimed at preventing the recipient from doing something. This may reflect a primitive precursor of the negatively connoted head-shaking behavior in humans. Further investigations are needed to clarify the preventive function of head shakes and their evolutionary role in the evolution of negation in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-202
Number of pages4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2010


  • Communication
  • Gestures
  • Head shaking
  • Pan paniscus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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