Language and Linguistics

Animal communication system

Human beings use words, sounds, gestures, and movements to communicate. In the same way, each animal species has its own “language” made up of voices, gestures, sounds, movements and smells. Some species use special colors to communicate, such as squid. The language is used to get or ask for food, call out to young people, recognize each other, woo a partner, sound an alarm, or defend territory. Animal communication system

How do animals communicate?

Sometimes the following question arises: do animals communicate with each other? The answer to this question, as we will see below, is yes. There are different types of communication between animals depending on the type of signal that is transmitted. These can be visual, chemical (hormonal), tactile, auditory, or even electrical. Let’s look at some of the main animal communication types below:

Visual communication between animals

Visual communication is very common in the bird world. Males tend to have a more striking coloration than females, which serves to attract your attention during the mating ritual. On many occasions, this ritual is based on an elaborate dance through which they demonstrate to the female her good health and her commitment to breeding. An example is the red-headed manaquin ( Ceratopipra mentalis ), which impresses its female with a dance move very similar to Michael Jackson’s “Moonwalk”. Animal communication system

Some insects, such as monarch butterflies, have a very striking coloration. Their patterns of drawings and colors indicate to predators that they are not a good food, that is, that they are toxic or have a very bad taste . The fire-bellied toad ( Bombina orientalis) also uses this technique. As its name suggests, the belly of this toad is red. When a predator approaches, it shows its abdomen and warns predators that there will be retaliation if they decide to eat it. Animal Language ways of communication

Chemical communication between animals

Chemical communication is one of the most unknown, but it is very important in the animal kingdom. The most curious examples are found in the group of social insects. For example, the communication of bees is based on the segregation of different chemicals known as pheromones . Thanks to these, they inform the rest of the hive about the presence of a danger or about the flowers from which they have already extracted the nectar.

The queen of the bees, in addition, controls the workers thanks to the secretion of a special pheromone that prevents them from reproducing. That is why the queen is the only bee capable of laying eggs. Exactly the same occurs in ants, which use pheromones to indicate to the rest the path they should follow to food. Therefore, we always observe them forming rows.

Tactile communication between animals

As for tactile communication, it can be easily observed in apes like the chimpanzee. These animals groom each other , removing parasites. Such behavior allows them to strengthen their relationship. You may also have noticed that dogs tell us that they love us by licking, and they ask us with their paw to show them our affection.

Animal sounds

If you wonder what sounds animals make, the answer is that it is a very complex world. In many cases, it has been affirmed that language is not something typical of human beings, but that we can also speak of the existence of the language of animals . However, there is much debate about it. So that you can form your own opinion, we are going to see some examples. Animal communication system

Alarm calls

A well-studied type of communication between animals is alarm calls. These are sounds that indicate the presence of a predator. As a result, the group can get to safety. In many species, the alarm signal is different depending on the predator . For example, the green ginger ( Cercopithecus aethiops ) is a monkey that presents different alarm calls to indicate the presence of a cheetah, an eagle and a snake.

On the other hand, one of the most surprising animals, capable of emitting different sounds of alarm or danger, is the cat.  Animal Language ways of communication

Food notice

Animals that live in groups also notify each other that they have found food . They identify the sound and go to the banquet. However, some animals do not call the rest until they have had enough to eat. This occurs, for example, in the case of the capuchin monkey ( Cebus sp.).

Mating ritual

During the mating ritual, in addition to dancing, many birds sing. Their songs are very elaborate and, although within the same species they are very similar, there are usually differences between individuals. That is, it is common for birds to learn new notes and personalize their songs .

A very curious case is that of the lyre bird ( Menura novaehollandiae ) that imitates the sound of other species of birds and even other sounds present in nature, such as a chainsaw. Also, during their mating ritual, the male hits plant branches with his paw. Thus, he sets the rhythm of his song and of the eccentric dance with which he impresses the females.

How do animals communicate in the water?

In water, the most common types of communication between animals are sound and chemical signals.

How do fish communicate?

Fish communicate, mainly, thanks to hormones present in their urine . However, some of them are able to communicate using electrical signals. These fish have modified motor systems that, instead of generating movement, produce small electrical discharges. An example is the morenita ( Brachyhypopomus pinnicaudatus ), very common in the rivers of South America. Animal communication system

There is also a lack of visual cues (ridges, color patterns, etc.) with which fish attract individuals of the opposite sex. Another very famous visual signal is bioluminescence, that is, the ability to produce light of some animals. The abyssal monkfish ( Melanocetus johnsonii ) has a kind of “fishing pole” in which many bioluminescent bacteria live. Smaller fish are attracted to light thinking that it is food. However, the food is them.

How do dolphins communicate?

The most complex animal sounds are undoubtedly found in the communication of dolphins . These mammals live in very complex societies and emit a huge repertoire of sounds. It is thought that they can exchange information in a similar way to human beings and that they even have their own name. It is, without a doubt, something similar to a language. Although, it is still a very unknown and controversial issue, so much so that many people defend that we cannot talk about the existence of an animal language. Animal Language ways of communication

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