Monday, June 24, 2024

Those chimpanzees who only lack speech

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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“Monsters of Science” is like a collection of stories. Beautiful tales told to live in all their freshness. But also in all its complexities. Arch to marvel at the treasures of the world. In this new episode, let’s connect with our closest relative: the chimpanzee.

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He lived in the woods. He walks on all fours. He is furry. Lots of things that set us apart from him. chimpanzee; Although, genetically speaking, it is the great ape closest to us. a cousin which we share more than 98% of Genoa. So by saying.

However, it’s hard to imagine cousins ​​with this wild animals Who knows only how to express himself by uttering screams in primitive accents. truly ? Researchers aren’t sure anymore. in 2018, they have already discovered that the chimpanzee – who lives in the Budongo Forest, in Uganda, anyway – adapts to its calling according to the context. This monkey is even capable of whispering “hoo”, and is intended exclusively for neighbors. What to consider behind these cries, which may seem terrible at first glance, there is a real intent. A chimpanzee adapts its communication according to what it wants to express and its state of mind at the time.

So of course, we have LandThere is only one animal species that can talk. This type of person. Somewhere in the mists of time, we have learned to associate sounds to form words. Then put these words together to build sentences. On the other hand, the monkeys seem to have stuck around using simple screams. Unique voices they do not seek to associate to impart accuracy to their exchanges. Because this is the source of the complexity of human language. Not from the variety of sounds we invented. There are less than fifty different languages ​​in each language. Non-human primates can use up to 40 of them. The The complexity of our language It was born rather from the way we know how to combine sounds and words, in an orderly and hierarchical manner. To have sentences that can express an infinite number of things.

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Complex and structured language

Hoping to better understand how to separate evolution from our cousin, the researchers wanted to study in detail the structure and diversity of the vocal sequences produced by chimpanzees. To do this, they recorded for more than 900 hours, thousands of calls made by 46 members of three groups of these monkeys that live in the wild in Taï National Park, in Cote d’Ivoire.

First, they identified 12 different types of calls. Grunts, gasps, screams or moans, for example. Which actually seems to mean different things depending on how it is emitted or even depending on the context. But the analysis that followed was the most surprising. It shows that chimpanzees are able to combine up to ten types of calls, thus forming hundreds of different vocal sequences. A little like our camel, finally.

Thus, communication between chimpanzees turns out to be more complex and organized than behavioral scientists have so far imagined. Are they really taking this opportunity to share somewhat complex information? Researchers will have to evaluate it, during other studies, in the coming months and years.

However, once again, it turns out that an ability that we thought was a privilege of humans can be accessed by other animals. Were they primates? History leads us a little further from the pedestal. And it turns out that chimpanzees are definitely not that stupid!

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