Contrary to what we might think, animals have conversations that are sometimes more polite than human beings, as one study reveals.
Maybe, as human beings, we create the panacea of evolution; And while the complexity of abstract thought and human language endows us with a uniqueness, animals also communicate with each other. And they do it in a less sophisticated way, yes, but perhaps more politely than people.
This is the conclusion of a study from the University of York, entitledTaking turns: bridging the gap between human and animal communication (Taking turns: building a bridge between human and animal communication), which shows a tendency to establish observable word turns in four taxa of animals: birds, mammals, insects and anurans.
Researchers have called for the art of waiting to speakturn-taking, a way to organize a conversation or a dialogue in which the participants talk alternately, without overlapping, as detailed in this article by Nobbot. This means that, indeed, animals not only communicate, but are polite conversationalists.
Some examples of animal communication we see, for example, in dolphins, which emit sounds to understand how to coordinate with others; thumbscrew monkeys raise their voices to locate others, and the chirping of male birds serves to draw attention to females.
A fundamental characteristic in speaking time is the waiting time. For example, among birds the latency time (the waiting time between the notes produced by one individual and another) is less than 50 milliseconds. In a conversation between humans, this interval is about 200 milliseconds (and that depends on how civil the conversation is). Other slower animals, such as the sperm whale, set waiting times of about 2 seconds.
In how many ways can animals communicate?
It depends, of course, on your physiology and your environment: grunts, movements, pulsations, even underwater flashes. Mainly we can distinguish three forms of communication: auditory, visual and chemical.
Chemical communication is the most primitive type, and also the most difficult to identify. These chemicals are, for example, pheromones, which are used mainly to establish courtship and reproduction rituals; but also to set limits and recognize group members. Visual communication develops through movements and colors (for example, poison frogs are often brightly colored, such as yellow; or the colorful feathers of the peacock are displayed in mating rituals). More complex species like some primates also include facial expressions. Finally, auditory signals can be emitted in various ways. In the case of mammals, through the vocal cords. In reptiles, such as snakes, the rattling sound of the tail; in insects, the vibration of the wings or strident organs ...
Checking that animals have a language also means deducing that they have a thought, however simple it may be. Which can lead to ethical reflections on the behavior of humans on animals, specifically, on their use and exploitation.
On the other hand, understanding the primitive nature of language allows us to find out data about our evolution, and also about some aspects of the functioning of our brain that neuroscience is still struggling to understand.
By Laura Marcos