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Animals communicating?

  1. Nov 4, 2003 #1
    do u guys think animals communicate, has there been a study proving this?...it was always a headscratcher to me,...but my guess is they have to....right?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2003 #2


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    Yes, many animals communicate...it can be as simple as one dog barking at another or as complex as a 30-minute whale song (and that's just vocal...there is also body language, chemical communications, color changes, etc.). The debate is over how intelligent the communication is.

    Never mind communication...there are even examples of animals teaching each other (e.g., chimps showing each other a new tool to gather food).
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2003
  4. Nov 5, 2003 #3


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    Didn't what you just did, prove this?

    Humans are animals. :wink:
  5. Nov 5, 2003 #4
    Ah, you beat me to it!
  6. Nov 6, 2003 #5


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    Can't believe I missed that one!
  7. Nov 6, 2003 #6
    Yes, it is quite obvious that the rest of the animals can communicate, but there ability to do so is quite limited, and restricted, in comparision to humans, as to be a MAJOR differentiation 'twixt us all.
  8. Nov 12, 2003 #7
    It's pretty clear to me that animals (including humans) communicate both vocally and through other ways as well. Most predatory animals such as whales, dolphins, wolves, etc. communicate in order to cooperate during their hunting excursions. Elephants can communicate in frequencies humans aren't able to hear.

    As to each animal's limitations to communicate. I'm not too sure it is easily judged. Koko the famous sign language gorilla can communicate with a vocabulary of over 800 words some of which she created on her own. Koko has also taught other gorillas to sign as well and use it to communicate to each other. This suggests a need or want to communicate efficiently with each other.

    Parakeets, Parrots and other speaking birds have been known to have huge vocabularies and are able to communicate their needs and feelings (not just mimic). Like Koko, some of these birds have taught each other to speak and comunicate to each other both in speaking language and their bird song language.

    Our ability to communicate only surpases other species due to our ability to read and write. It took thousands of years to develop languages which gave the human species a huge advantage in communication. It would be interesting to see what would happen if a gorilla or ape for instance is taught to read and write and use such skills to develop a vocal language of their own.

    Nevertheless there is a huge amount of data that shows a large array of communication between animals of the same species (especially among those that live in groups).
  9. Nov 17, 2003 #8
    It is interesting that it seems that no one makes the connection between, our ability to speak, and our having altered the landscape of the planet, as the latter is the result of "eons" of the former.

    It is thus that we arrive in this present civilization, "The Greatest Civilization" that has ever been existent, on the face of the planet, all as a direct, and indirect, result of humanities ability to speak "abstractions" using language(s).

    But all of that, seemingly, (to some of you) is paled by the fact that "most" of the animals can make some range(s) of sounds, one (two? three?) can learn sign language to 800 words, (when a five year old's vocalublary is "Orders of Magnitude" greater) and you seem to think that that "levels the plane"...........somehow(????), how much you (must?) miss of your own intelligence.
  10. Nov 17, 2003 #9
    Bees have one of the most complex systems of communications in the animal kingdom - it is the most like human speach. Bees "dance", telling other bees both where to go and how far to go to get food.
  11. Nov 17, 2003 #10
    Mr. Robin Parsons
    I agree. There is a direct link between the civilization we have created and our ability to communicate. I believe without the ability to communicate so efficiently as we have in the past few thousand years, our civilization may be very different from what it is today. As you pointed out, it took “eons” to reach where we are now and I would argue that as our civilization progressed over time so did our vocabulary and communication techniques which may have evolved in the following fashion: 1) limited vocal and physical gestures, 2) pictures, 3) beginnings of a vocal language, 4) alphabet, 5) writing/reading, etc. As time progressed so did our intelligence as measured by our ability to communicate and exchange ideas. Today we can communicate so efficiently that thousands of words are created each year to our languages to identify new discoveries that have been made.

    Mr. Robin Parsons
    I don’t know about placing humans on equal level with other species… Yes our communication skills far exceed the communication skills of other species. I question, however, how limited each species’ ability to communicate truly is. By this I mean how much can we teach them and how much can they teach themselves in terms of creating a language of their own. Yeah I know it sounds like Sci-Fi but, I have an open mind to say that apes in general have the physical tools to evolve in a similar manner in terms of communication. Many have shown the ability to draw pictures. They have shown the ability to communicate to humans and to their own species via sign language. For now their vocabulary seems to meet their needs but if they find the need to create more words and are taught other communication techniques (such reading and writing) to be able to record data, then it would be interesting to see how much their communication skills, vocabulary and language may grow. In short I am suggesting that their limitations may not be as confined as we originally believed especially if we factor in the possibility of what they may achieve in time.
    As I have noted earlier, Koko the gorilla is a fairly new discovery. I checked the website and learned that she has a growing vocabulary that now exceeds 1000 signs and she also understands up to 2000 spoken words. Koko has also created her own signs for her own new discoveries and for her own needs to communicate. Her IQ has been tested to be within the range of 70-95 compared to that of the human average of 100. I am not trying to make animals appear to have an equal intelligence to humans, but they certainly appear to be much more intelligent than scientists originally perceived them to be. Their potential may be higher than we originally perceived.
  12. Nov 17, 2003 #11
    Why are you getting defensive, Mr. RP? It seems as though you are expecting someone to say, "Humans are nothing special," or something else antithetical to your human-centric belief system. People were just answering the question, presenting ways in which animals communicate.
  13. Nov 18, 2003 #12
    A minor correction , it is Life-centric, Humans are a component of that, life itself, is one of the 'forms' (causal) of God.
  14. Nov 18, 2003 #13
    Yes, and dogs pee on things to mark there territory, it is minor, and most importantly, NOT a carrier of H-I-S-T-O-R-I-C-A-L Knowledge!

    There is an example of "Historical Carriance" from the Elephants, such as there isn't any other 'seen potential explaination' for it, yet.
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