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 Identifying drug targets for leukaemia
02.05.2016 | The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

nachricht A cell senses its own curves: New research from the MBL Whitman Center
29.04.2016 | Marine Biological Laboratory

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: 2+1 ist nicht immer 3 - In der Mikro-Welt macht Einigkeit nicht immer stark

Wenn jemand ein liegengebliebenes Auto alleine schiebt, gibt es einen bestimmten Effekt. Wenn eine zweite Person hilft, ist das Ergebnis die Summe der Kräfte der beiden. Wenn zwei kleine Teilchen allerdings ein weiteres kleines Teilchen anschieben, ist der daraus resultierende Effekt nicht notwendigerweise die Summe ihrer Kräfte. Eine kürzlich in Nature Communications veröffentlichte Studie hat diesen merkwürdigen Effekt beschrieben, den Wissenschaftler als „Vielteilchen-Effekt“ bezeichnen.

 

Im Focus: 2+1 is Not Always 3 - In the microworld unity is not always strength

If a person pushes a broken-down car alone, there is a certain effect. If another person helps, the result is the sum of their efforts. If two micro-particles are pushing another microparticle, however, the resulting effect may not necessarily be the sum their efforts. A recent study published in Nature Communications, measured this odd effect that scientists call “many body.”

In the microscopic world, where the modern miniaturized machines at the new frontiers of technology operate, as long as we are in the presence of two...

Im Focus: Winzige Mikroroboter, die Wasser reinigen können

Forscher des Max-Planck-Institutes Stuttgart haben winzige „Mikroroboter“ mit Eigenantrieb entwickelt, die Blei aus kontaminiertem Wasser entfernen oder organische Verschmutzungen abbauen können.

In Zusammenarbeit mit Kollegen in Barcelona und Singapur verwendete die Gruppe von Samuel Sánchez Graphenoxid zur Herstellung ihrer Motoren im Mikromaßstab. D

Im Focus: Tiny microbots that can clean up water

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute Stuttgart have developed self-propelled tiny ‘microbots’ that can remove lead or organic pollution from contaminated water.

Working with colleagues in Barcelona and Singapore, Samuel Sánchez’s group used graphene oxide to make their microscale motors, which are able to adsorb lead...

Im Focus: Bewegungen in der lebenden Zelle beobachten

Prinzipien der statistischen Thermodynamik: Forscher entwickeln neue Untersuchungsmethode

Ein Forscherteam aus Deutschland, den Niederlanden und den USA hat eine neue Methode entwickelt, mit der sich Bewegungsprozesse in lebenden Zellen nach ihrem...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

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

Diabetes Kongress 2016: Diabetes schädigt das Herzkreislauf-System

02.05.2016 | Veranstaltungen

Internationale Bunsen-Tagung erstmals an Uni Rostock

02.05.2016 | Veranstaltungen

VDE|DGBMT veranstaltet Tagung zur patientennahen mobilen Diagnostik POCT

28.04.2016 | Veranstaltungen

 
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Industrielle Förderanlagen effizient und einfach umbauen

02.05.2016 | Informationstechnologie

Diabetes Kongress 2016: Diabetes schädigt das Herzkreislauf-System

02.05.2016 | Veranstaltungsnachrichten

2+1 ist nicht immer 3 - In der Mikro-Welt macht Einigkeit nicht immer stark

02.05.2016 | Physik Astronomie