Scientific interest in the acquisition of gestural signalling dates back to the heroic figure of Charles Darwin. More than a hundred years later, we still know relatively little about the underlying evolutionary and developmental pathways involved. Here, we shed new light on this topic by providing the first systematic, quantitative comparison of gestural development in two different chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus and Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) subspecies and communities living in their natural environments. We conclude that the three most predominant perspectives on gestural acquisition—Phylogenetic Ritualization, Social Transmission via Imitation, and Ontogenetic Ritualization—do not satisfactorily explain our current findings on gestural interactions in chimpanzees in the wild. In contrast, we argue that the role of interactional experience and social exposure on gestural acquisition and communicative development has been strongly underestimated. We introduce the revised Social Negotiation Hypothesis and conclude with a brief set of empirical desiderata for instigating more research into this intriguing research domain.