Links for Keyword: Animal Communication

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Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News — It may not be language as we know it, but whales have no shortage of ways to make themselves understood. So broad is their vocal repertoire, in fact, that whales can call to their young, woo potential mates and even express emotions, according to researchers who have identified 622 social sounds in humpback whales. Their work will be presented at the upcoming joint meetings of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) and the Acoustical Society of Japan in Hawaii. Social sounds are brief, unpatterned sounds that are distinct from lengthier, complex whale songs. The new research adds to a growing body of evidence that whales convey more meaning through vocalizations than previously thought. "I wouldn't say (whales possess) language, as that's a human term," Rebecca Dunlop told Discovery News. Dunlop, who worked on the study, is a researcher in the School of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Queensland, Australia. "Whales don't string these sounds together like words and form sentences. It's more like a simple vocabulary," she said. The scientists visually tracked 60 pods of whales migrating along the east coast of Australia. The researchers used a static hydrophone array — sensitive equipment that detects sound waves — linking the whale sounds to various activities and contexts. © 2006 Discovery Communications Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 9635 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Susan Milius On his first trip into Namibia, Chris Faulkes woke up in his tent with a peculiar kink in his back. The ground beneath him had been flat enough when he went to sleep. Yet the next morning, "there was a whopping great lump," he says. A mound of dirt had arisen under Faulkes. He'd inadvertently found—or been found by—Damaraland mole rats, the very creatures he'd come to study. With one of the oddest social systems yet found in mammals, these sub-Saharan rodents spend their lives in networks of underground tunnels that they continually excavate. These mole rats and a better-known species called naked mole rats survive in land that goes months without rain. When rain finally comes, the animals go into a frenzy of digging to expand their tunnels before the ground bakes again. With the mole rats' extreme social system, individuals labor for the sake of the colony. Since the early 1980s, mole rats have been used as models of social organization. The wrinkled, hairless rodent known as the naked mole rat has achieved celebrity status even outside science. In Faulkes' office at Queen Mary College of the University of London stands a cardboard cutout of the Disney-cartoon character of the naked mole rat Rufus. Even the Wall Street Journal has run a page-one story on naked mole rat charms. The subhead read: "What Is Whiskered and Ugly and Has Little Squinty Eyes?—No, Not Your Former Spouse. . . ." Copyright ©2006 Science Service

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 9051 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News — Enormous bee swarms containing as many as 15,000 bees are guided by "streaker" scout bees that fly super fast and lead the swarm to its destination, according to a new study published in the latest journal Animal Behavior. The study negates a prior theory that scout bees released smelly chemicals that informed the other bees where to go. The discovery of streaking scout bees indicates the other bees simply look up to the speedy flyers that zip along with a "Follow me!" visual cue. "A bee's eye is rather large and is not placed at the front of the bee's 'face' like ours, but is sort of positioned on top of the bee's head," explained Madeleine Beekman, lead author of the study. "This means that the bee has a clear view of what is happening above her." Beekman, a bee expert and researcher in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney, added, "Hence, when scouts fly fast above a bee that doesn't know where to go, this fast-flying bee will be visible as a streak and this streak points into the direction of travel." She told Discovery News that the streaks are even visible to humans; she has seen them by walking into bee swarms. The fastest streakers fly at a rate of around 3.3 feet per second. © 2006 Discovery Communications Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 8606 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News — Elephants not only converse with each other, but each possesses its own unique, expressive voice, according to a new study on African elephants at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida. The findings suggest elephants live rich social lives and feel an array of human-like emotions. The data also strengthen claims that animal communication can be content-rich and emotionally complex. While careful human listeners might hear elephant conversations, elephants, particularly chatty females, converse in low-pitched rumbles that often are missed by human ears, according to two related studies, which have been accepted for publication in the journal Animal Behavior. Similar to humans ignoring conversations at other tables in a restaurant, elephant strangers do not pay much attention to each other. "Female friends exchange rumbles even when they are out of sight from one another, and their voices differ from one another, so I believe that they can recognize each other by their voices alone, just as humans and many other social animals can do," said Joseph Soltis, who led the study. Copyright © 2005 Discovery Communications Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 7512 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News — Butterflies may seem to be silent loners, but new research reveals that many species of these colorful insects actively communicate with one another using Morse Code-like clicks, according to a recent University of Florida press release. The finding adds to the growing body of evidence that many insects can hear and that they communicate using sound. The research might also help humans. Studies on the tiny auditory organs of butterflies could lead to the development of improved hearing aids and miniature microphones. UF researcher Mirian Hay-Roe first heard the butterfly clicks when she shared greenhouse space with a colleague who was working with blue and white longwing butterflies, Heliconius cydno. The longwings seemed to bully Hay-Roe's butterflies, which were a different species. They chased the insect newcomers around the greenhouse. It was during the air turf war that Hay-Roe heard a number of faint clicks. As the longwings flew, they often clicked to each other and apparently to the interlopers. Copyright © 2004 Discovery Communications Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 5902 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News — Males do not listen, at least if they are Manx shearwater sea birds, new research has shown. Puffinus puffinus, best known as Manx shearwaters for their habit of gliding on stiff wings along the troughs of waves, marry for life and share the incubation of a single egg. The chick is then raised by both parents who feed it with regurgitated food. Scientists at Leeds and Cardiff universities put microphones into the burrows of nesting shearwaters and discovered that males regularly provide more food to their offspring than the females. “ Males return to the nest at least once every four days, bringing back food with predictable regularity, regardless of the chick's cries. ” The reason is not that they are better parents, said Keith Hamer of Leeds University's biology department — they just don't listen to the begging calls of their chicks. Copyright © 2004 Discovery Communications Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 5733 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News — High-tech underwater equipment has enabled researchers for the first time to ascribe sounds to individual killer whales, and the recordings reveal that whale families like to mimic each other when communicating. Killer whale sounds have been captured on tape before, but only in group recordings where scientists could not identify the whales making sounds. The latest data suggests whales communicate with each other in ways that are similar to humans, other primates, dolphins and birds. The findings will be published in the upcoming issue of the journal Animal Behavior. According to Patrick Miller, lead author of the paper and a scientist at the NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, he and his colleagues followed distinctively marked killer whales using a small boat that was towing a beam-forming hydrophone array. They used the beam to calculate the angle of sounds, and to identify whales that produced noises. Copyright © 2004 Discovery Communications Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 5154 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News — While humans try to outsing each other on televised talent contests, birds are doing nearly the same thing in nature, with the winners gaining peer prestige and female admirers instead of record contracts. According to a study published in the current issue of Animal Behavior, some male songbirds sing up to 12 times louder in order to be heard and admired over other birds. Females react differently. They give louder tweets when they are alone and can hear other birds. The findings may relate to humans, as human speech and bird songs rely on similar mechanisms. Copyright © 2004 Discovery Communications Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases; Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex; Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 4954 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News — Male turkeys gobble to attract female turkeys in the spring, but the daily factors that control why and how much an individual turkey gobbles remain a mystery to experts. The puzzle soon may be solved, however, thanks to a high tech turkey necklace developed by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. News of the project was announced in a recent press release issued by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), an organization comprised of turkey hunters that is sponsoring the research. Copyright © 2003 Discovery Communications Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 4612 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Danny Kingsley, ABC Science Online — People who develop complex networks, like the World Wide Web or electricity grids, could learn a lot from the social behavior of dolphins, a New Zealand zoologist has found. David Lusseau, a zoologist at the University of Otago, spent seven years observing a community of 64 bottlenose dolphins in Doubtful Sound, New Zealand, and found they have a social structure similar to human and human-made networks. His mathematical study of their social behavior is published in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society. Copyright © 2003 Discovery Communications Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 4059 - Posted: 06.24.2010

How do migrating birds know where to go? By Karen Wright The term "birdbrain" sounds like an insult until you learn a few things about migrating birds. Arctic terns, for example, somehow steer an 11,000-mile course each autumn from their breeding grounds north of the Arctic Circle to the antipodes of the Southern Hemisphere. They locate favorite stopovers on the Bay of Fundy, fly three days nonstop over the blank face of the northern Atlantic, negotiate the west coast of Africa, and home in on their habitual winter haunts on the Antarctic pack ice. Then, come spring, they head back north again—along a different route up the eastern coast of South and North America. "These birds are making the longest journeys among animals on earth," says ecologist Thomas Alerstam of Lund University in Sweden. Whether migrating or homing, birds are unsurpassed as navigators. Yet scientists still haven't found the mechanisms in bird brains that account for the birds' skill. The cues birds rely on to orient themselves aren't simple or obvious. People, for example, often use geographical cues—landmarks—to navigate. But homing pigeons can get back to their lofts from unfamiliar territory even if they're anesthetized on the outbound trip. They can find their way even while wearing frosted contact lenses that blur anything farther than a few yards beyond their beaks. © Copyright 2002 The Walt Disney Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 8: General Principles of Sensory Processing, Touch, and Pain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 3124 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Tina Hesman Saey Zebra finches have something to tweet about. The little songbirds’ genetic instruction book has just been deciphered. An international team of scientists announced the accomplishment in the April 1 Nature. Zebra finches are the first songbirds and the second bird, after the chicken, with a completely decoded genetic blueprint. Contained within the finch’s DNA could be clues to how songbirds learn vocal information and use songs in social situations, a model for human language and communication. Whales, dolphins, some bats and several other species of birds also learn vocally, but the mouse-sized zebra finch has become a model system for studying the process in the laboratory. Male zebra finches memorize their fathers’ songs and practice singing the song for a month or two. Once learned, a male’s song is his signature. Unlike other songbirds that can change their songs, he sings his for life. Discovering the molecular mechanisms behind how songbirds learn their songs could also help scientists better understand human communication disorders such as autism and stuttering, says David Clayton, a neurobiologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who was one of the leaders of the study. Neuroscientists have studied zebra finches for years to learn which parts of the birds’ brains become active as the animals hear and learn new songs. The new genetic information will add molecular details to help scientists better understand vocal learning, says Allison Doupe, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco. She was not involved in the new study, but says the genetic information is a welcome tool for researchers who study the finches. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2010

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 13928 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Sherry Seethaler A discovery by a University of California, San Diego biologist that some species of bees exploit chemical clues left by other bee species to guide their kin to food provides evidence that eavesdropping may be an evolutionary driving force behind some bees’ ability to conceal communication inside the hive, using a form of animal language to encode food location. Bees can use two main forms of communication to tell their hive mates where to find food: abstract representations such as sounds or dances within the hive or scent markings outside the hive to mark the food and/or the route to it. In 1999, James Nieh, an assistant professor of biology at UCSD, published a paper in which he hypothesized communication within the hive may have evolved as a way of avoiding espionage by competitors. Nieh’s most recent study, a collaboration with Brazilian biologists published June 16 in the early on-line version of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, is strong support for that hypothesis because it shows that bees can indeed use the chemical markings deposited by bees of other species to home in on and take over their food source. The paper will appear in print in Proceedings of the Royal Society in August. Copyright ©2001 Regents of the University of California

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 5662 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Matt Walker The giggling sounds of a hyena contain important information about the animal's status, say scientists. In the first study to decipher the hyena's so-called "laugh", they have shown that the pitch of the giggle reveals a hyena's age. What is more, variations in the frequency of notes used when a hyena makes a noise convey information about the animal's social rank. Details of the US-based research are published in the journal BMC Ecology. Professor Frederic Theunissen from the University of California at Berkeley, US, and Professor Nicolas Mathevon from the Universite Jean Monnet in St Etienne, France, worked with a team of researchers to study 26 captive spotted hyenas held at a field station at Berkeley. There they recorded the animals' calls in various social interactions, such as when the hyenas bickered over food, and established which elements of each call corresponded to other factors. Last year, the researchers published some provisional results from the study. Now they have confirmed that the pitch of the giggle reveals a hyena's age, while variations in the frequency of notes can encode information about dominant and subordinate status. BBC © MMX

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 13919 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Jennifer Viegas Squeaker catfish of all ages communicate with each other by, you guessed it, squeaking, according to a new study in the journal BMC Biology. Previously it was thought that young fish had under-developed hearing organs and could not perceive sounds made by older fish. The findings add to the growing body of evidence that fish have complex communication systems and aren't always the strong, silent types. For the study, researchers studied the catfish Synodontis schoutedeni. This species rubs the spines of its pectoral fins into grooves on its shoulder, thus creating the squeak sound. By placing the fish in a combined fish tank and sound-proof chamber, the scientists were not only able to measure the produced sounds, but also how well each fish heard them. Young and old squeaker catfish were tested. "This study is the first to demonstrate that absolute hearing sensitivity changes as catfish grow up," said the University of Vienna's Walter Lechner. He added, "This contrasts with prior studies on the closely related goldfish and zebrafish, in which no such change could be observed. Furthermore, S. schoutedeni can detect sounds at all stages of development, again contrasting with previous findings." © 2009 Discovery Communications, LLC.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 13725 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Rex Dalton Silently slipping to 1,000 metres below the ocean surface, an undersea glider equipped with a recording device is cruising off Hawaii to capture unprecedented detail on the sounds made by whales. The experiment represents the first time that an acoustic-equipped glider has been deployed to this depth in the open ocean to record data from a specific marine mammal. Whales make distinctive clicking sounds or vocalizations both for communication and for echolocation, allowing them to navigate and forage for food, but traditional acoustic devices on the ocean surface typically can't record whale sounds emitted at lower depths. The glider is designed to collect acoustic data from beaked whales (Ziphiidae), which can dive down to 2,000 metres. These whales seem to be particularly sensitive to man-made noise, and there have been a number of beaked whale strandings associated with the use of military sonar equipment1. The data will help to improve our understanding of whale biology, researchers say, but the glider is also being considered as a more effective way of monitoring marine mammals when airguns are deployed for seismic studies of the seafloor (see 'Airgun ban halts seismic tests'). Such tests have been linked to whale strandings or deaths, but when observers try to monitor whales by sight during the studies, "they miss about 85% of the whales present," says whale-acoustics expert Dave Mellinger of Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon, who works on the glider project. © 2009 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 13452 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Annabel McGilvray, ABC Science Online -- Animal welfare researchers have uncovered why city-living domestic dogs may be prone to nuisance barking. In this month's issue of Australian Veterinary Journal, a team from the University of Queensland's Center for Animal Welfare and Ethics report a case-control survey of 150 dog owners including 72 dogs whose owners had sought treatment for nuisance barking. Barking can be classified as being a nuisance when it causes distress or interruption to the life of the dogs' owners or neighbors. The results suggest dogs most likely to become nuisance barkers are young dogs from herding breeds such as collies and kelpies, those bred in a home environment, have access to indoors or live with other dogs. Co-author of the report, Clive Phillips said the work was prompted by the high number of public complaints and inquiries about nuisance barking, with studies suggesting approximately a third of dog owners possess at least one nuisance barker. "We wanted to look at the factors relating to the dog, the owner and the environment that may increase the risk of nuisance barking." He said, barking may be caused by separation anxiety, perceived threats in the environment and sometimes to simple social interaction, canine-style. But human actions and responses also play a role. © 2009 Discovery Communications, LLC.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 13365 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Lucas Laursen Despite thousands of years of domestication, dogs have a hard time figuring out what humans are thinking. That's the conclusion of a new study, which shows that dogs continue to trust unreliable people and therefore lack a so-called theory of mind. Humans don't start out with a theory of mind. Ask a toddler if his mother knows where he has hidden a toy, for example, and he'll likely say "yes," even if his mom has no idea. That's because the child assumes his mother knows everything he does; he doesn't have a real insight into what she's thinking. As the child grows up, however, he will begin to understand what his mother does and doesn't know, and will thus indicate that, "No, Mommy doesn't know where I hid the toy." Showing theory of mind in nonhumans has proven much more difficult. A 1978 study claimed to have identified a rudimentary theory of mind in chimpanzees by showing that they could anticipate the intentions of another animal. But later work was less conclusive. More recently, Alexandra Horowitz of Barnard College in New York City found that dogs ensure that they have other dogs' attention before playing with them. They also nip at distracted dogs to regain their attention, suggesting that dogs may have theory of mind when it comes to other dogs. To test dogs' theory of mind when it comes to humans, psychologist William Roberts and colleagues at the University of Western Ontario in Canada matched 24 dogs ranging in size from dachshunds to vizslas with both helpful and deceptive people. The team sat each dog near a tree in a park and placed two buckets at a distance; both smelled like food but only one contained it--a frankfurter. Sometimes a helpful human called the dog and pointed at the food-filled bucket. Other times, a deceptive human directed the dog to the empty bucket. If the dog fell for the ruse, the deceiver pretended to eat the sausage in order to ensure that the dog understood that it had missed a chance for a meal. © 2009 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 13174 - Posted: 06.24.2010

by Catherine Brahic Monkeys may see, hear and speak no evil, but they sure can be naughty, according to the first study to compare the ability of monkeys to deceive others in order to get food. Intentional deceit is not restricted to humans, say Federica Amici and colleagues of Liverpool John Moores University in the UK. Some monkeys use simple forms of deceit, and the ability depends not on how closely related they are to humans, but on their social structure. Amici's team put up to 10 monkeys from three different primate species through the same experiment designed to test their ability to deceive dominant monkeys. Spider monkeys, brown capuchins and long-tailed macaques were shown how to access food that was hidden or just out of reach. They were then put in cages with a socially higher-ranking monkey from the same species. Dominant monkeys in all three species would normally have priority over food, but in this case they did not know how to get to it. Subordinate monkeys of all three species went straight for the food when their dominant partner was not around. But as soon as the dominant monkey was introduced, they held back. This suggests they were intentionally withholding information in order to get the food for themselves. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 12961 - Posted: 06.24.2010

by Ewen Callaway Though they wouldn't win much applause at a karaoke lounge, the infant forms of blue butterflies can belt out a convincing cover version of a tune favoured by red ants - which show their appreciation by protecting and feeding the butterfly larvae. Researchers have found that the larvae and pupae of Maculinea rebeli - a parasitic butterfly native to western Europe, though threatened with extinction - impersonate red ants so faithfully that worker ants worship them as if they were queens, caring for the developing caterpillar even at the expense of their own lives. "They appeared to be treating the caterpillars as if they were the holiest of holiest, the pinnacle of power, the queen ant," says Jeremy Thomas, an entomologist at the University of Oxford who led the new study. Listen to caterpillars imitating ants here, pupae making ant-noises here, the noise of the queen ant here and a worker ant here Playing queen As young caterpillars, M. rebeli spend their days gorging on leafy greens. When they're nearly ready to begin their transformation into a butterfly, the caterpillars descend to the forest floor and secrete ant-like chemicals. Duped worker ants ferry the caterpillar to its colony, where it is accepted as another ant, based on its smell alone. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 12530 - Posted: 06.24.2010