Intentionality and flexibility have been claimed as hallmarks of human language. However, research on intentionality and flexibility in non-human animal communication is biased towards a few species and communication modalities, mainly towards great ape gestural communication. Thus, this project will establish operational criteria for analysing these traits in a wider range of species, by understanding wild chacma baboons’ gestural and vocal communication using machine learning software. Using baboons as a model, we will provide insights into how deeply rooted intentional and flexible communication is in the animal kingdom and when these cognitive traits central to human language might have evolved.
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