photo by Vanessawoods (source: Wikimedia Commons)

Scientists in Germany have observed and filmed bonobos – a close relative of the common chimpanzee – shaking their heads from side to side in what is believed to be body language for ‘saying no’.

Bonobos have already been observed using head shaking to express other emotions, but same signal meaning ‘no’ for both bonobos and humans could be evidence of an ancient forerunner to our own genetically-compelled methods of communication.

During the study, they witnessed four individual bonobos shaking their heads in this way on 13 different occasions.

–BBC News

Bonobos are great apes and humanity’s closest living species, along with the common chimpanzee. They are an endangered species that exists in the wild only in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

From an article in World Science:

Bonobos–endangered African apes perhaps best known for their freewheeling sex life–are close evolutionary relatives of common chimpanzees. The two species are believed to constitute branches of a single ape lineage. Before this division occurred, though, scientists believe the lineage spawned another branch, the one that eventually gave rise to humans. This earlier separation took place an estimated six million years ago.

So like us: One video appears to show a mother bonobo shaking her head to stop her child from playing with its food. See this article from BBC Earth News for video footage and more information.