Wild gorillas hum and sing songs during meals
February 29, 2016 | 17 comments
The dominant male tends to make the most noise during mealtimes. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.6 Kabir
Scientists have revealed that gorillas have their own unique ways of expressing contentment while eating.
In some countries burping after finishing a meal is considered good table manners, but as it turns out it is not only humans that use sounds to express themselves during mealtimes.
Researchers studying the behavior of wild western lowland gorillas in the Republic of the Congo discovered that the gorillas sometimes hummed and 'sang' while eating - a behavior that had only ever previously been observed in captive gorillas and other primates living in zoos.
Unlike their captive counterparts however, wild gorillas appeared to leave the singing and humming to the dominant silverback male whose vocalizations, in addition to expressing contentment with the food, were used to inform the other gorillas in the group that it was time to eat.
"He’s the one making the collective decisions for the group," said primatologist Eva Luef. "We think he uses this vocalization to inform the others ‘OK, now we’re eating’."
The discovery emphasizes how food calls differ according to the social structure of a species.
"We think food calls are a very social signal; it’s about coordinating feeding events with others," said psychologist Zanna Clay from the University of Birmingham. "So in gorillas you get the dominant male producing the calls, because he has to keep hold of all the females in his group."
Source: New Scientist
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