Cooperation and communication likely coevolved in humans. However, the evolutionary roots of this interdependence remain unclear. We address this issue by investigating the role of vocal signals in facilitating a group cooperative behavior in an ape species: hunting in wild chimpanzees. First, we show that bark vocalizations produced before hunt initiation are reliable signals of behavioral motivation, with barkers being most likely to participate in the hunt. Next, we find that barks are associated with greater hunter recruitment and more effective hunting, with shorter latencies to hunting initiation and prey capture. Our results indicate that the coevolutionary relationship between vocal communication and group-level cooperation is not unique to humans in the ape lineage and is likely to have been present in our last common ancestor with chimpanzees.
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