Links for Keyword: Animal Communication

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Roxanne Khamsi Disney's Nemo spoke in English, but real clownfish also communicate in a unique way, research reveals. High-speed video imaging and X-ray technology show that clownfish clack their jaws together to produce warning sounds before they attack. This is the first time that fish have been shown to communicate in this way, the researchers say. Scientists have known for nearly 80 years that clownfish produced a swift succession of clacking noises when they spot an intruder in their territory or want to attract a potential mate (listen to the clownfish warning noise). "It is like someone knocking on a door," describes Eric Parmentier at the University of Liege in Belgium, who studies fish behaviour. Clownfish generate about five clicking sounds per second when communicating, but exactly how they produce the noises has been a mystery. Parmentier and colleagues used high-speed video to record and analyse the body movements of Amphiprion clarkii clownfish. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

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: 10310 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Will Knight Robotic and uncrewed submersibles could operate more effectively by mimicking the way some fish probe their surroundings with electric fields, say researchers. Many marine and freshwater fish can sense electric fields, but some also generate their own weak fields over short ranges to help navigate, identify objects, and even communicate with other fish. Malcolm MacIver and colleagues at Northwestern University in Chicago, US, studying the biomechanics of these "weakly electric fish", have now come up with an artificial electric-field sensing system. They say it could ultimately give robot submersibles the same additional sensory capabilities. "Currently, no vehicle is manoeuvrable enough to do work in tight quarters, such as coral reef monitoring, underwater structural inspection, or searching a submerged vessel," MacIver told New Scientist. "To do so requires not only a high amount of agility, but also being able to sense in all directions, so that you do not collide with nearby obstacles. Electro-location is perfect for this." Field disturbancesThe researcher's electro-location system consists of two field-emitting electrodes and two voltage-sensing electrodes. These electrode pairs are arranged at opposite corners of a diamond, and were submerged in shallow water for testing purposes. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 8: General Principles of Sensory Processing, Touch, and Pain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 10266 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Katherine Unger You're at a party when you hear someone shout, "I'm going to kill you!" If you've just had a pleasant conversation with that person, it's safe to assume he's yelling at someone else. A new study suggests that baboons employ similar reasoning when deciding whether another's threatening grunt is intended for them. This is the first time the ability to intuit another's intentions through vocalizations has been confirmed in nonhumans, say the researchers. Baboons live in social groups of up to 75 individuals and frequently interact using touches, facial expressions, and grunts. The animals have distinctive voices, and a listening baboon can tell who is talking, but scientists didn't know whether a baboon could tell whether it was the one being spoken to. A research team, led by behavioral ecologist Anne Engh of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, sought an answer in a group of 70 baboons living at a game reserve in Botswana. The researchers played a recording of a dominant female's threatening grunt to a lesser-ranking female who had recently either fought or groomed with the dominant female. Subordinate females who had just brawled with their superior looked up toward the speaker faster and were more likely to leave the area than the groomers were, the researchers report online 18 January in Animal Behaviour. © 2006 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 8445 - Posted: 06.24.2010

You've been there before, stuck at an impasse with friends, unable to decide where to eat or which movie to see. Suggestions fly as time slips away, the gang still undecided. For folks atop the food chain, complex communication doesn't always serve us well, especially considering that sheep, fish and bees continuously make snap decisions that move their groups in unison without much fuss or muss. Scientists have long wondered how such animals do it. Now, one researcher believes he's found clues that point to an answer far simpler than anyone once thought. "You don't need [individual animals] to have to signal to one another," says Iain Couzin, a mathematical biologist and lead author of a study on decision-making in animal groups that was published in the journal Natureand highlighted in Discover Magazine. "You don't need individuals to actually recognize one another... and they can even collectively come to consensus," he explains. All the group needs, he says, is a few individuals with a directional preference. When they turn, one of two things happen: either the group follows or the stray individual rejoins the group. Couzin, who splits his time between Princeton University and University of Oxford in England, says in animals that flock, herd or school, rules are at play. To decipher them, he and his colleagues first fished for clues in tanks, where they filmed fish swimming. Then the team created computer software that automatically tracked fish as they moved, helping translate darts and turns into mathematical formulas. "We can create these virtual animals," Couzin says of his experiment. "Then what we can do is we can abstract. We can make a simplified version of reality... we then look at the basic kinds of interactions that fish use." © ScienCentral, 2000-2005.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 7477 - Posted: 06.24.2010

David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor Consider the waggle dance of the honeybee, famed in science and controversial for nearly 50 years. Most scientists firmly believe the dance is a mysterious coded language that the bees use to direct their hive-mates how to fly toward distant food sources of nectar and pollen. Its insight as "language" won its German discoverer a Nobel Prize in 1973. Scores of experiments over the decades have claimed to support his theory. But UC Santa Barbara biologist Adrian Wenner, who has been a beekeeper in the Sacramento Valley since childhood, insists that it is just the scent of food that sends the honeybees flying in flocks -- and that scientists who believe in the language of the honeybee dance are merely "suckers for the exotic" whose experiments are designed to support the theory and not to challenge it. Now, a group of researchers, led by a British physicist who tagged three dozen bees with radar transponders to track their flight, claims their experiments confirm that the dance is "the most sophisticated example of non- primate communication that we know of." The latest effort to decipher the honeybee's "waggle dance" is being published today in the journal Nature by Joseph R. Riley of Britain's Rothamsted Research Center in rural Hertfordshire, together with Uwe Greggers of Berlin's Free University and other colleagues. ©2005 San Francisco Chronicle

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 7346 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Heated tail display warns off would-be predators. MICHAEL HOPKIN Faced with an angry rattlesnake, you or I might freeze with fear. But California ground squirrels take the opposite approach: they heat their tails up to warn the snake that they will not take an attack lying down. It is the first time that an animal has been shown to send a deliberate signal using infrared radiation, or heat, says Aaron Rundus of the University of California, Davis, who presented the discovery on Monday at the Animal Behavior Society's annual meeting in Oaxaca, Mexico. Rattlesnakes are a constant menace to the squirrels, often poaching young from families. This threat gives rise to aggressive stand-offs between snakes and adult squirrels, in which the rodent kicks sand and brandishes its tail in a bid to harass the predator into submission. The snakes do much of their hunting by detecting heat, using sensitive structures called pit organs in their faces. The new discovery shows that the squirrels take advantage of this sensitivity by broadcasting their message in a language the snakes can understand. © Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2004

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 8: General Principles of Sensory Processing, Touch, and Pain; Chapter 10: Vision: From Eye to Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System; Chapter 7: Vision: From Eye to Brain
Link ID: 5663 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Berlin - Big-city noise levels prompt birds to sing louder in order to be heard by other birds over the din, according to research by German ornithologists. The study of free-ranging nightingales in and around Berlin showed that chocolate male birds "singing in the dead of night" have to raise their little voices in order for females of their species to hear them. An analysis of sound pressure levels revealed that males at noisier locations sang with higher sound levels than birds in territories less affected by background sounds, according to research headed by Dr Henrik Brumm of the Institute for Biology at Berlin's Freie University. This is the first evidence of a noise-dependent vocal amplitude regulation in the natural environment of an animal. ©2004. All rights strictly reserved.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 5480 - Posted: 06.24.2010

What does it feel like to be swimming with a 15-metre-long, 45-tonne sperm whale - and feel a powerful click pulse through your body as it investigates you with its sonar? Hal Whitehead is one of the few who know. He follows sperm whales across the ocean to study their behaviour. He has found evidence that they have cultures and, as he tells Michael Bond, they possibly have patterns of cooperation more advanced than any other mammal - humans included How do you go about studying sperm whales? It is not easy. They spend almost all their lives deep in the ocean, where they are invisible to us. There is so much we don't know about them. I prefer to stick to simple technologies. I like to spend my time out at sea among the animals, collecting lots of data then trying to make sense of it. One thing we are about to try out is recording with an array of hydrophones. That will enable us to work out where each sound is coming from and so where each whale is in the group. But for it to work the whales have to be virtually within the array. This is difficult because sperm whales are always on the move, so we have developed model boats to carry the hydrophones to allow us to keep abreast of the whales. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

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: 5473 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Researchers have discovered that some monkeys process the sounds of other monkeys in their brains much like the way people process language. As this ScienCentral News video reports, it's a discovery that may lead to a better understanding of how people acquired the ability to communicate. We've all seen primates when they are monkeying around. But how much actual communicating is going on? "[Monkeys] do communicate vocally," says John Roden, Curator of Animals at the Central Park Zoo. "They definitely have different vocalizations that they'll do, that I would say have a communicative role in their interactions. If they are startled, they might make a loud vocalization that would alert the group that there's potential danger around. They have smaller vocalizations, if they find a food source or something like that, that they might want to share with others. It's not necessarily as complex, obviously, as human vocalization, but it certainly does convey information." © ScienCentral, 2000-2004.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 5078 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Foraging workers push and shove to steer others around bottlenecks. MICHAEL HOPKIN When it comes to traffic congestion, ants prefer the no-nonsense approach - they barge others out of the way, forcing them to take an alternative route. The strategy allows ants to prevent time-consuming blockages on foraging trails, say European researchers. Foraging ants lay down scent cues that allow others to follow the route between the nest and a food source. As more ants follow the trail, the chemical signposts are reinforced and become more attractive. But problems can arise when too many ants try to use the route, says Vincent Fourcassié of the Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France. His team found that ants are surprisingly good at avoiding congestion, simply by shoving each other off the main highway and on to back streets. © Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2004

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 5074 - Posted: 06.24.2010

NewScientist.com news service Sports fans are not the only ones to celebrate a win with a rousing tune - a chirpy African bird does the same, researchers have revealed. Mate pairs of the tropical boubou belt out their special victory song after they have deterred would-be invaders from their territory, suggest Ulmar Grafe and Johannes Bitz at the University of Würzburg, Germany. The discovery was made by accident, the scientists happily admit. They were investigating the birds' musical repertoire in the Ivory Coast when they noticed that whenever they packed up their equipment and left the bird territories, the birds would trill a particular tune. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

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: 4953 - Posted: 06.24.2010

The key cognitive step that allowed humans to become the only animals using language may have been identified, scientists say. A new study on monkeys found that while they are able to understand basic rules about word patterns, they are not able to follow more complex rules that underpin the crucial next stage of language structure. For example, the monkeys could master simple word structures, analogous to realising that "the" and "a" are always followed by another word. But they were unable to grasp phrase patterns analogous to "if... then..." constructions. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 4811 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Physics underlies rhythms of South American birdsong. PHILIP BALL The synchronized rhythms of South American ovenbirds may be driven by simple physics, say researchers, rather than deep-rooted musical talent. The thrush-sized Hornero, Furnarius rufus, is common to Brazil and Argentina and famed for its oven-shaped nest. When a male and female strike up song, the male begins by singing roughly six notes per second and gradually upping the tempo. Instead of keeping pace with her partner, the female punctuates his beat with one of her own1. The result is "a most appealing rhythm," say Rodrigo Laje of City University in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Gabriel Mindlin of the University of California at San Diego. © Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2003

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: 4744 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Male apes share intense greetings only with close friends. JOHN WHITFIELD Want to show someone you really like them? Slap them in the face. That, at least, seems to be the message of baboon salutations. The closer the social bond between two animals, the more intrusive and risky the greeting when they meet. For male Guinea baboons (Papio papio), this involves ritualized fiddling with each other's genitals. Baboons impose on each other to demonstrate and test the strength of their relationship, says Jessica Whitham of the University of Chicago. The hazards involved in such intimacy mean that only truly trusting apes will get up close and personal, she says. © Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2003

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 4476 - Posted: 06.24.2010

She says devices endanger whales and other sea life Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer A federal judge knocked down Tuesday a Navy plan to deploy submarine-hunting sonar in most of the world's oceans, saying the devices endanger entire populations of whales, porpoises and fish. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco said a permanent injunction should be issued that will bar the Navy from using sonar in areas including 14 million square miles, or about 40 percent, of the Pacific Ocean. But she left open the possibility of limited use of new low-frequency active sonar technology for testing and training in certain areas not considered rich in sea life. Also, Congress is considering legislation that would effectively allow wider use of the sonar technology, despite the judge's ruling. ©2003 San Francisco Chronicle

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 4173 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Birds may pitch songs to win mates despite urban din. MICHAEL HOPKIN City birds sing higher-pitched songs than their country cousins. The trick could make their mating calls audible over the low roar of traffic, researchers suggest1. Hans Slabbekoorn and Margriet Peet of Leiden University in the Netherlands surveyed 32 male great tits (Parus major) around Leiden, recording songs and measuring the level of background noise. "Some were next to a really busy road - others were in quiet residential neighbourhoods," Slabbekoorn explains. Town tits hit the high notes, the pair found, whereas rural ones favour their lower registers. Urban birds may stand a better chance of being heard over the loud, low-frequency rumbling of engines if they use mainly high notes. Especially since they don't seem to wait for a quiet moment before performing. "They continue to sing regardless of whether cars are going past," says Slabbekoorn. © Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2003

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: 4052 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition The remarkable visual vocabulary of cuttlefish, which change the colour of their skin in a flash for communication or camouflage, is being catalogued with the help of a mathematical technique borrowed from signal processing. Independent component analysis (ICA) was invented to untangle mixtures of signals. For example, it can pick out individual voices from the babble of a crowd. Now cuttlefish expert Daniel Osorio and his colleagues from the University of Sussex in Britain are hoping it can help them work out which basic elements cuttlefish use to build up their sophisticated patterns. They called in neuroscientist John Anderson, also at Sussex, to help as they photographed a cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) swimming around in a tank. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 3823 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Mimic birds share brain molecules. HELEN R. PILCHER Scientists have zeroed in on the set of brain genes that enable parrots and songbirds to mimic tunes, heard this week's American Association of the Advancement of Science annual meeting. Most birds sing the same old song every day; but some, such as hummingbirds and parrots, incorporate new sounds or words into their calls. This skill is equivalent to humans piecing together words into a sentence. These birds all switch on the same genes in specific vocal regions of their brains, says neuroscientist Erich Jarvis of Duke University, North Carolina. The genes make receptors that are thought to help nerve cells communicate when learning new sounds. © Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2003

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: 3444 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition Adding a virtual brain to a computer model of a singing bird has allowed scientists to figure out how birds compose their songs. The feat hints that we might one day be able to map some of the complex circuitry in an animal's brain just by listening to its calls. When birds sing, they force air from their lungs past folds of tissue in the voice box. Just over a year ago, scientists at Rockefeller University in New York and the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina reported that they had developed a simple computer model that mimics this process to produce sound. By simulating changes in the tension of the vocal folds and in the air pressure from the lungs, the model reproduced the song of a canary (New Scientist print edition, 10 November 2001). © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

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: 3280 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Carol Marzuola Anybody who's ever moved a muscle toward a leash will agree that dogs understand human body language. The animals' capacity to do this, suggests new research, was evolutionarily engrained since they became people's canine companion about 15,000 years ago. Previous studies have shown that dogs can use human cues to find hidden food. For example, dogs that watch experimenters look or point at a sealed bowl enclosing a meal then choose correctly between that container and an empty one. "Conventional wisdom would say that [people] train dogs to do this," explains Michael Tomasello, a comparative psychologist at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany. But his team's findings support another view. Tomasello and his colleagues compared various animals taking the food-container challenge. Dogs were always better than human-reared wolves at finding the food. And they even outwitted chimpanzees. The research team was surprised to find that 9-to-26-week-old puppies, including some rarely exposed to people, could use the researchers' cues to find food. From Science News, Vol. 162, No. 21, Nov. 23, 2002, p. 324. Copyright ©2002 Science Service. All rights reserved.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 0: ; Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 3067 - Posted: 06.24.2010