Chimpanzees can adapt their vocalizations to match the local lingo. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Thomas Lersch
Researchers have identified the first ever case of animals actively modifying their use of language.
A group of chimpanzees from the Netherlands that were brought to Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland astonished animal behavior experts when it was discovered that they had adopted the local lingo.
The Dutch chimps originally used a high-pitched grunt to indicate the word "apples" while their Scottish counterparts used a grunt with a lower tone to indicate the same thing. Within three years of arriving in Scotland however the Dutch group had adapted their grunts to match those of the Scottish chimps.
The research suggests for the first time that, like humans, chimpanzees are capable of picking up a new regional 'accent' while still speaking the same language.
"An extraordinary feature of human language is our ability to reference external objects and events with socially learned symbols, or words," said psychologist Dr Katie Slocombe.
"These data represent the first evidence of non-human animals actively modifying and socially learning the structure of a meaningful referential vocalization."
Source: Independent | Comments (15)