I’ve been posting about clapping bigfoots for a while now, so whenever I run across articles about other apes doing the same thing, I try to share them. Through the investigation of my hypothesis, I’ve learned a few things and heard some great eyewitness accounts of clapping by sasquatches. I believe I’m on the right track.
I also believe that we can learn quite a bit about sasquatch behavior through studying the other great apes, including that of humans. The following article was published last summer and brings to light another study of the great apes and their use of clapping as a form of communication.
Swamp gorillas ‘clap’ when humans come near?
Wild female swamp gorillas have been observed clapping their hands in a set routine that appears to hold meaning for other gorillas, according to a new study conducted at the Lac Tele Community Reserve in the Republic of Congo.
The study adds to the growing body of evidence that hand clapping originated with the common ancestor of humans and other primates. It also suggests hand clapping may often serve as a form of communication in great apes.
The clapping female Likouala swamp gorillas, described in the latest issue of the journal Primates, don’t appear to vary their technique.
“Our observations of female gorillas clapping was always inner palm to inner palm, just as humans would clap,” lead author Ammie Kalan told Discovery News, mentioning that the gorillas would do this after stretching their arms in front of their bodies. “The sound was always two rapidly consecutive beats and the sound does carry within the rainforest, much like a gorilla chest beat,” added Kalan, a researcher in the Department of Anthropology and Geography at Oxford Brookes University.
She and co-author Hugo Rainey of the Wildlife Conservation Society documented such clapping in three different contexts. On one occasion representing the first context, a single female in a tree noticed humans and clapped her hands, eliciting an immediate response from her silverback, meaning the adult male harem leader. According to the researchers, “his response was a loud, single roar followed by drumming on the buttress and chest beating.”
In the second context, several startled females with infants performed the hand-clapping ritual five times in succession with up to a minute between hand claps. The scientists believe they were attempting to contact their silverback.
For the third and final context, a group of five foraging gorillas near an infant playing in a nearby tree were encountered by Kalan and Rainey. The mother of the infant clapped her hands loudly while directing her face towards her infant and the other group members. Everyone, including the youngster, stopped what they were doing, gazed at the mother and then stared at the researchers. The gorillas did not immediately flee, but exhibited unease and moved on after about seven minutes.
“By hand clapping, it appears the female gorillas alert others in their group to possible threat or alarm so that the silverback may come to their aid, or if they are already together, they can maintain group cohesiveness in case of pending danger,” Kalan explained. Primatologist Joanne Tanner, who studies gestural communication, theorizes pregnant and nursing females are more sensitive to chest beating, so they may have devised the hand clapping technique as a less painful substitute for the Tarzan-like behavior.
Tanner told Discovery News that the new findings are important because they confirm “clapping is a common gesture of gorillas in their native settings, not just in zoos.” Kalan, however, notes that eastern gorillas, such as Gorilla beringei, in Africa do not seem to clap in such a fashion. This suggests hand clapping could be a gestural culture found only in western lowland gorillas.
Corri Waitt of the Animal Behavior Research Group at the University of Oxford informed Discovery News that this “fascinating” new research could help to demystify the evolution of human communication. “Many researchers believe that gestural communication in apes was the precursor to human language, and that our ancestors had a rich repertoire of hand and arm gestures they used to transmit information to one another,” said Waitt.