Monkey see, monkey do

Are we done with handshakes? Not quite, according to chimps

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Bate via Giphy

Edwin J. C. van Leeuwen

To tease out the importance of handshakes, a new study in Biology Letters takes a deep dive into hand grasping behavior among chimpanzees over the course of 12 years.

Edwin J. C. van Leeuwen

Hand grasping is a common behavior, often happening when chimps groom each other. But despite how common it is, it isn’t well understood.

Here’s a pair of the apes locking hands as they tidy up:

Edwin J. C. van Leeuwen

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Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens via Giphy

Sculpture via Giphy

These differences reflect the slightly distinct kinds of handshakes we humans practice depending on where we are from in the world.

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As the chimps’ social groups changed over time, they held onto their habits, suggesting that their handshake style is a cultural norm for their group.

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This suggests hand grasping behaviors are learned socially, as opposed to a biological trait.

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Read more stories about animals here.

Edwin J. C. van Leeuwen