Primate Communication Essay

1269 words - 5 pages

Monkeys and humans have been compared for years, “we have all heard the expression monkey see, monkey do. But should the saying really go monkey hear, monkey do?” (Sakrison) Recent studies are finding that the language abilities of some monkeys are more sophisticated than we ever thought possible (Sakrison). Monkeys often always live together in social groups. And each member contribute by helping to defend their food sources, watch for predators, and even raise each other’s young. Is it impossible to live in a social group without some form of communication Group members need ways to influence and inform each other? This is what drives language. (Sakrison)
Primates have evolved many ways of communicating; these include visual cues, and auditory calls. Visual cues can only work if they can be seen, and in the dense forest and underbrush that most primates live in, auditory cues are a much more useful tool. Calls and vocalizations can also be modified in pitch, loudness, and duration, in which messages, can be transmitted. The basic messages that primates need to successfully live in groups are alarm calls, territorial calls, food calls, personal identification calls, and dominance calls. Some primates have developed more complex and specialized forms of auditory communication (Sakrison). Some have even developed a type of language.
Not any one animal have been known to have all the aspects of human language, but several species have some. Diana monkeys are some of the cleverest monkeys when it comes to language; they have combined calls to make sentence-like messages. This requires a type of grammar. The meaning of the “sentence” depends on what sounds are included and in what order they are in. Added sounds can emit more information, like maybe, or not urgent. Each predator has an assigned call. The warning call for an eagle will differ from the jaguar call, meaning Diana monkey language includes semantics: signals convey meaning and refer to features in the real world. What’s even more fascinating is that the Diana monkeys can understand other species of monkeys. Putty-nosed guenons also combine calls, and their messages can be understood by the Diana monkeys. (Sakrison) A great example of multilingual primates is the Diana monkeys and the eight different species of primates they live in close proximity too, with eight different monkey species living together and listening to each other. With eight times as many eyes on the lookout, making it significantly harder for predators to go unnoticed. Each of the eight species has about fifteen distinct calls that are about a hundred and twenty different sounds to remember. There are only a select few humans that speak eight different languages and the ones that do are few and far between, it appears that these primates have evolved to be able to communicate between their species.
Some primates are capable of displacement, the use of language to refer to things that are not present. Primates use...

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