Francine Patterson made significant contributions to our understanding of human-animal communication through her work teaching sign language to gorillas. Koko, the gorilla she worked the most with, is claimed to know how to sign 1,000 words, and can understand 2,000 spoken English words. She claims that Koko “demonstrated a sense of humor, an ability to lie and show remorse and even to recall traumatic experiences”. Her work is important because it proposes a new kind of perspective of how animals understand the world. It suggests that their understanding may not be so far from human understanding as previously believed.
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