Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

Banded mongooses structure monosyllabic sounds in a similar way to humans

10.01.2013
Animals are more eloquent than previously assumed. Even the monosyllabic call of the banded mongoose is structured and thus comparable with the vowel and consonant system of human speech. Behavioral biologists from the University of Zurich have thus become the first to demonstrate that animals communicate with even smaller sound units than syllables.

When humans speak, they structure individual syllables with the aid of vowels and consonants. Due to their anatomy, animals can only produce a limited number of distinguishable sounds and calls. Complex animal sound expressions such as whale and bird songs are formed because smaller sound units – so-called “syllables” or “phonocodes” – are repeatedly combined into new arrangements.


Even the monosyllabic call of the banded mongoose is structured and thus comparable with the vowel and consonant system of human speech.


Single syllable provides information on the identity and activity of the caller.

However, it was previously assumed that monosyllabic sound expressions such as contact or alarm calls do not have any combinational structures. Behavioral biologist Marta Manser and her doctoral student David Jansen from the University of Zurich have now proved that the monosyllabic calls of banded mongooses are structured and contain different information. They thus demonstrate for the first time that animals also have a sound expression structure that bears a certain similarity to the vowel and consonant system of human speech.

Single syllable provides information on the identity and activity of the caller

The research was conducted on wild banded mongooses at a research station in Uganda. For their study, the scientists used a combination of detailed behavior observations, recordings of calls and acoustic analyses of contact calls. Such a call lasts for between 50 and 150 milliseconds and can be construed as a single ‘syllable’. Jansen and his colleagues now reveal that, despite their brevity, the monosyllabic calls of banded mongooses exhibit several temporally segregated vocal signatures. They suspected that these were important so studied the individual calls for evidence of individuality and behavior. “The initial sound of the call provides information on the identity of the animal calling,” explains Jansen. The second more tonal part of the call, which is similar to a vowel, however, indicates the caller’s current activity.

Structured single syllables in animals not an exception?

Manser and her team are thus the first to demonstrate that animals also structure single syllables – much like vowels and consonants in human speech. The researchers are convinced that the banded mongoose is not the only animal species that is able to structure syllables. They assume that the phenomenon was overlooked in scientific studies thus far. For instance, they point out that frogs and bats also structure single syllables. “The example of banded mongooses shows that so-called simple animal sound expressions might be far more complex than was previously thought possible.”

Literature:
David A.W.A.M. Jansen, Michael A. Cant, and Marta B. Manser. Segmental concatenation of individual signatures and context cues in banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) close calls. BMC Biology. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-10-97

Banded mongooses:

Banded mongooses (Mungo mungos) live in the savannah regions south of the Sahara. They are small predators that live in social communities and are related to the meerkat (Suricata suricatta). Banded mongooses differ from meerkats and other mammals that rear their young cooperatively in that several females have offspring. In the case of meerkats, however, only the dominant female has young.

Banded mongoose groups each comprise around twenty adult animals. The group looks after the young animals, defends its territory jointly and forages as a unit. As soon as the young go foraging with the group, they enter into an exclusive, one-on-one relationship with an adult animal, an escort. The young recognize their escort based on its call and are able to distinguish it from other group members. Banded mongooses have a wide range of sounds and coordinate their activities by this means, which enables them to maintain group cohesion.

Contact:
David Jansen, PhD Student
Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
University of Zurich
Tel.: +41 44 635 52 81
E-Mail: david.jansen@ieu.uzh.ch
Prof. Dr. Marta Manser
Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
University of Zurich
Tel.: +41 44 635 52 82
E-Mail: marta.manser@ieu.uzh.ch

Beat Müller | Universität Zürich
Further information:
http://www.uzh.ch/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Quasi-sexual gene transfer drives genetic diversity of hot spring bacteria
29.05.2015 | Carnegie Institution

nachricht Scientists use unmanned aerial vehicle to study gray whales from above
29.05.2015 | NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Galapagos-Vulkanismus: Überraschend explosiv

Internationales Vulkanologen-Team präsentiert neue Erkenntnisse zur Eruptions-Geschichte

Vor 8 bis 16 Millionen Jahren gab es im Gebiet der heutigen Galapagos-Inseln einen hochexplosiven Vulkanismus. Das zeigt erstmals die Auswertung von...

Im Focus: Lasers are the key to mastering challenges in lightweight construction

Many joining and cutting processes are possible only with lasers. New technologies make it possible to manufacture metal components with hollow structures that are significantly lighter and yet just as stable as solid components. In addition, lasers can be used to combine various lightweight construction materials and steels with each other. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen is presenting a range of such solutions at the LASER World of Photonics trade fair from June 22 to 25, 2015 in Munich, Germany, (Hall A3, Stand 121).

Lightweight construction materials are popular: aluminum is used in the bodywork of cars, for example, and aircraft fuselages already consist in large part of...

Im Focus: Wie Solarzellen helfen, Knochenbrüche zu finden

FAU-Forscher verwenden neues Material für Röntgendetektoren

Nicht um Sonnenlicht geht es ihnen, sondern um Röntgenstrahlen: Wissenschaftler der Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) haben zusammen mit...

Im Focus: Festkörper-Photonik ermöglicht extrem kurzwellige UV-Strahlung

Mit ultrakurzen Laserpulsen haben Wissenschaftler aus dem Labor für Attosekundenphysik in dünnen dielektrischen Schichten EUV-Strahlung erzeugt und die zugrunde liegenden Mechanismen untersucht.

Das Jahr 1961, die Erfindung des Lasers lag erst kurz zurück, markierte den Beginn der nichtlinearen Optik und Photonik. Denn erstmals war es Wissenschaftlern...

Im Focus: Solid-state photonics goes extreme ultraviolet

Using ultrashort laser pulses, scientists in Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have demonstrated the emission of extreme ultraviolet radiation from thin dielectric films and have investigated the underlying mechanisms.

In 1961, only shortly after the invention of the first laser, scientists exposed silicon dioxide crystals (also known as quartz) to an intense ruby laser to...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics
Veranstaltungen

Potenzial aller Kinder erkennen

29.05.2015 | Veranstaltungen

Cannabis – eine andauernde Kontroverse

29.05.2015 | Veranstaltungen

Frauen können nicht alles haben - Männer aber schon?!

29.05.2015 | Veranstaltungen

 
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Mikhael Subotzky und Patrick Waterhouse erhalten den Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2015

29.05.2015 | Förderungen Preise

Potenzial aller Kinder erkennen

29.05.2015 | Veranstaltungsnachrichten

HDT - Sommerakademie 2015 für Entwickler und Ingenieure

29.05.2015 | Seminare Workshops