A Career Studying the Sophisticated Vocabulary of Prairie Dogs

Professor Con Slobodchikoff’s life work with prairie dogs has revealed that their complicated system of calls can communicate sophisticated and detailed information. … More A Career Studying the Sophisticated Vocabulary of Prairie Dogs

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The Birth of a Cultural Meme: The “Do Not Disturb” Gesture in Mandrills

(A longer discussion of animal communication can be found in my book.) Mandrills are, literally, one of the most colorful creatures on earth and certainly the most colorful primates. Their striking faces are matched only by the bright coloring of their hindquarters. (Their genitals are colorful, too, if you must know!) The coloring is part … More The Birth of a Cultural Meme: The “Do Not Disturb” Gesture in Mandrills

Koko, Washoe, and Kanzi: Three Apes with Human Vocabulary

(A long discussion of animal communication can be found in my book.) In the last 40 years, there have been many apes that have been taught to communicate with humans using sign language or other means, but the most famous among them are Koko the gorilla, Washoe the chimpanzee, and Kanzi the bonobo. These are … More Koko, Washoe, and Kanzi: Three Apes with Human Vocabulary

Did Neanderthals Speak?

Humans like to think of ourselves as the only animal that speaks to each other using language. It’s one of the things that “separates us from the animals,” so the saying goes. However, we already know that lots of other animals communicate with each other using vocal-auditory communication. Further, we’re beginning to learn that other … More Did Neanderthals Speak?

Signaling Theory: How Prey Animals Communicate with their Predators

(A longer discussion of animal communication can be found in my book.) It’s no surprise that animals communicate with one another, but we normally think of animal communication as between members of their own species. It turns out that predators and their prey have evolved elaborate systems of communication as well. I am dangerous! A … More Signaling Theory: How Prey Animals Communicate with their Predators

Other Primates Use Speech and Vocabulary

(A longer discussion of animal communication is found in my book.) Human language seems so much more complicated and organized than anything experienced by animals. Nevertheless, animals do indeed communicate complex ideas using precise, intentional communication. Some primate species even have discrete audible words with unambiguous meanings. In other words, they have their own spoken languages and … More Other Primates Use Speech and Vocabulary