Take a note, Bubbles

According to a recent post on Language Log, chimpanzees in the wild have been observed make pencil-like tools. They take sticks, tear off any branches, peel the bark off, and then sharpen one end. They then use the stick to make mark on large flat leaves. In one cases, a female chimp made marks on a leaf, showed it to a male, who looked at it briefly, then rushed off on some errand. Researchers have, as yet, been unable to examine the symbols because the chimps eat usually them.

Perhaps writing has been around a lot longer than we realise.

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10 Responses to Take a note, Bubbles

  1. Ben L. says:

    Simon-

    Readers may wish to read the Washington post article the Language Log posting links to here. I trust there is forgiveness for skeptics of the chimp script.

  2. Polly says:

    So, were they hunting or composing memoranda? I think the weapon story is the more likely one. It almost looks like that article was lifted and purposely modified to make it look like the chimps were writing. It’s basically the same article with a few crucial details altered. What’s going on with Language Log?
    I don’t doubt that chimps can be resourceful. But the description of how the “script” was generated leaves plenty of room for doubt that it could’ve communicated anything meaningdul to the male chimp other than presenting a leaf with gashes in it, which the male may take as a signal in and of itself, without needing to “read” it.
    It’s a mesmerizing prospect, though. What if some other species: chimp, dolphin, whale, etc. has discovered language?
    Chimpanian script?
    Avian?
    Cretacian?
    Dorsal Finnish?
    Caninite?

    :-D

  3. BG says:

    I’d agree that this article is a hoax, an interesting one though.

  4. As pun-lover, I especially enjoyed Polly’s use of “Dorsal Finnish” and “Caninite”.
    A pun is the lowest form of wit… and therefore the most basic.
    ;-))) ;-))) ;-)))

  5. Chimpnese?
    Cat-Alan?
    Tabbylonian?

    [ The possibilities are endless ] ;-D

  6. Coneyform?

    [ ENOUGH ALREADY, RONALD !!! ]

  7. Ben L. says:

    Might Protozoa Indo-European be a common ancestor?

  8. Polly says:

    Ronald Kyrmse – Those were hilarious! :-D

  9. BnB says:

    Perhaps she was ordering the male to “Go kill me a bushbaby.” The pen is, after all, mightier than the spear…

  10. Marjorie Nye says:

    Ah, the ubiquitous monkey(honey)-do list!