Richy Yun, Taylor Pope
There are two main modes of communication observed in the animal kingdom: vocal and gestural. Human communication is mostly predominated by speech rather than gestures. However, ape gestures show much more complexity, such as intentionality and flexibility, whereas vocalizations are prone to spontaneity and have only one definitive meaning. Further neurological evidence also shows that the mirror neurons and parts of apes’ brains that handle gestures are homologous to areas of human brains that deal with speech, including Broca’s area. These two facts coupled suggest that human speech originated from gestural communication, rather than having evolved from primitive vocal calls. Vastly different cultural and societal differences which in turn lead to different needs for communication have driven humans to develop speech. Through observation, researchers have determined that non-human primates are capable of deception. Many believe that this ability demonstrates the strength of primate’s social cognitive abilities. In particular their use of deception suggests that primates possess a theory of mind, an understanding that others have their own thoughts and desires, because they must see the need to trick others. We will use this to argue that apes have a high social cognition. However, humans have another level of social cognition that apes do not seem to possess including shared intentionality, joint attention, and an understanding of bi-directional communication.