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Can Monkeys Talk? - Comments

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 1 by NewEnglandBob

These monkeys seem more intelligent than creationists.

Tue, 18 May 2010 22:44:22 UTC | #471241

RDfan's Avatar Comment 2 by RDfan

How interesting.

Also interesting, to me, is how the monkeys, according to this study, responded to the recorded sounds without "verifying" it with their own eyes; they simply heard the call and acted accordingly without double-checking to see if there was, in fact, a leopard or whatever out there.  Their first reaction was to run for cover, not to see "what's up".

It seems that there are no monkeys, such as these, that "cry wolf".

Updated: Tue, 18 May 2010 22:53:29 UTC | #471243

Gunga Lagunga's Avatar Comment 3 by Gunga Lagunga

Fascinating.

Another interesting reaction (omitted in Josh's video) occurred when a Ray Comfort sermon was shown to the vervet monkeys.  They all began inspecting their bananas and then pointing their middle fingers towards the monitor.

Tue, 18 May 2010 22:51:05 UTC | #471244

Ryou Concord's Avatar Comment 4 by Ryou Concord

I wonder if the calls are ubiquitous?  If you were, for instance, to play the, "Oh shit, jaguar!" sound, would a group monkeys with no previous interaction from the group of the monkeys in this study react in a similar fashion?  

I doubt it, I would think it's analogous to the different languages humans have.  But still.

Wed, 19 May 2010 05:43:49 UTC | #471309

William T. Dawkins's Avatar Comment 5 by William T. Dawkins

RE:

Comment 2 by RDfan

 It seems that there are no monkeys, such as these, that "cry wolf".

If the researchers continued to sound the alarm without the threat being present, would the monkeys become desensitized and ignore it?

Updated: Wed, 19 May 2010 06:34:18 UTC | #471319

FreeWillyB's Avatar Comment 6 by FreeWillyB

Thank you so much for videos like these. This is a service to mankind.

Wed, 19 May 2010 07:15:07 UTC | #471326

iraszl's Avatar Comment 7 by iraszl

Very interesting. Are they really the first animals to be observed to talk? I thought dolphins have a completely vocabulary of more than hundred words.

Wed, 19 May 2010 10:34:06 UTC | #471362

friendlypig's Avatar Comment 8 by friendlypig

Fascinating. For me the whole subject of how we produce speech is the most fascinating aspect of evolution. How the brain stores and processes data, the recall of that data and formulation of language is amazing.

Wed, 19 May 2010 11:01:29 UTC | #471368

Rosbif's Avatar Comment 9 by Rosbif

This was very well described in The Talking Ape by Robbins Burling.

Wed, 19 May 2010 11:12:11 UTC | #471371

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 10 by crookedshoes

George Bush talked and talked and talked...... you get the point.

At what point do these talking monkeys invent religion? At what point do they start attempting to insert their own "facts" into the textbooks their students use? By the by, how on earth do you see this video and still sit and assert that we are not related to these organisms??? I propose a new taxonomic category....for the humans that are so closely related to monkeys that they can not process the relationship. The latin binomial for this new group will be: Contrario realitis

Wed, 19 May 2010 12:36:14 UTC | #471385

lehtv's Avatar Comment 11 by lehtv

Comment 1 by NewEnglandBob
These monkeys seem more intelligent than creationists.

Well, that's hardly surprising, since creationists didn't evolve from monkeys. They spontaneously, purely by chance, popped out of a puddle of mud, as we all know.

On topic, however... Interesting stuff. As noted by RDfan, the monkeys' response to the alarm calls was to act without verifying that there really is a threat. To me this suggests strong social cooperation. The benefits of working as a group seem to outweigh the benefits of producing false alarm calls to trick your group members.

Wed, 19 May 2010 13:01:43 UTC | #471391

RDfan's Avatar Comment 12 by RDfan

Comment 11 by lehtv
...the monkeys' response to the alarm calls was to act without verifying that there really is a threat. To me this suggests strong social cooperation. The benefits of working as a group seem to outweigh the benefits of producing false alarm calls to trick your group members.
The article below seems to suggest so, too.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/leopard-behind-you/

"Crying wolf" does appear to happen, though not intentionally, and there are apparent repercussions.

@Ryou Concord; it also appears that other animals use similar communication modes; that there is cross-species "understanding", including that between prey/preditor.

Wed, 19 May 2010 14:18:17 UTC | #471409

ridelo's Avatar Comment 13 by ridelo

This research dates from the mid nineteensixties. Can it be that in the meantime some progress has been made in this area?

Wed, 19 May 2010 20:34:24 UTC | #471502

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 14 by prettygoodformonkeys

I find the concept exceedingly ironic, always, but especially for this site.

"Can monkeys blog?"

"Can monkeys invent cars?"

"Can monkeys question whether they are monkeys, and then post these questions about 'the animals' to one of their monkey websites, without a single trace of irony?"

This is not in any sense a criticism, but the buying in to this view is just completely systemic. I'm delighted by this, but just not surprised that animals can do things. We are doing them.

Wed, 19 May 2010 21:51:09 UTC | #471521

pd's Avatar Comment 15 by pd

prettygoodformonkeys

I'm [...] not surprised that animals can do things. We are doing them.

QFT

... although it is interesting and useful to find out how we do things, by comparison with other animals.

Wed, 19 May 2010 22:09:07 UTC | #471531

Mr.Samsa's Avatar Comment 16 by Mr.Samsa

Comment 5 by William T. Dawkins
RE: Comment 2 by RDfan  It seems that there are no monkeys, such as these, that "cry wolf". If the researchers continued to sound the alarm without the threat being present, would the monkeys become desensitized and ignore it?

Yes:

[Link]

Updated: Thu, 20 May 2010 09:08:54 UTC | #471629

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 17 by prettygoodformonkeys

@pjcd

qft..? Elaborate.

Fri, 21 May 2010 02:40:44 UTC | #471900

FeRex's Avatar Comment 18 by FeRex

Not a word, but very close. Would also be interesting to hear those "alarm calls" and how they sound for a human ear.:)

Fri, 21 May 2010 17:35:28 UTC | #472136

star-stuff's Avatar Comment 19 by star-stuff

I'm not surprised by this at all. I know this may be a tenuous comparison, and I'm no zoologist (and I may be guilty of anthropomorphizing a bit), but I have a dog that attempts to communicate with me all the time. He uses various methods such as sound and body placement. For example, when he wants water, he stands near his dish and gives a short bark and he stares at me, or if I'm in another room he pokes his head in and gives the short bark with the stare. I ask him if he wants water and then he does a little turn, confirming for me that, yes, he wants water. I pour it in his dish and then he drinks it right away. When he wants to play, he growls at me in a very specific way and only in this way when he wants to play. If he's begging for food, he does a low, continuous growl, a sound he only makes while begging. And when he wants to go on the balcony he sits directly below the door handle and when I ask him what he wants, he slowly looks up at the door handle and then slowly back at me. I ask if he wants to go on the balcony, and he does the confirmatory turn. Now, I know most of how we communicate has been developed over the years through trial and error, but the point I'm trying to make is that my dog makes specific sounds for and/or positions himself in relation to the things that he wants so that I can make it happen for him... in a small way, like the vervet monkeys. This kind of topic fascinates me. In fact, I wish I had discovered this fascination long ago so I could have studied animal communication and inter-species communication/cooperation as a career.

Sat, 22 May 2010 21:44:13 UTC | #472548

MegaKarlos88's Avatar Comment 20 by MegaKarlos88

Comment 2 by RDfan :

It seems that there are no monkeys, such as these, that "cry wolf".

Perhaps some monkeys do cry wolf but the monkeys believe it without question because failure to do so could result in death. It would be interesting to find out it they do cry wolf though.

It would be fascinating to find out if another group of monkeys uses the same sounds

Sun, 23 May 2010 01:06:46 UTC | #472599

quarecuss's Avatar Comment 21 by quarecuss

What if the alarm call is made mistakenly because the caller was not on his game or was a bit loopy, drunk on rotting fruit, as certain species often are? Does that constitute "crying wolf"? Misunderstandings among the monkeys? The more I read Richard Dawkins and the more I hear of research like this, the more convinced I am that what we once thought were purely human traits like language, special to us, distinguishing us from the "lower orders", were anything but and have simply evolved from those small step beginnings that all animals go through. I am reminded too of our human individual embryonic development, the cries and giggles of a baby at an even more basic stage of language development than these monkeys. "You did it yourself in 9 months." chapter of TGSE

Mon, 24 May 2010 19:23:53 UTC | #473093

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 22 by Bonzai

What did they tell you?

Mon, 24 May 2010 19:53:54 UTC | #473109

tommcc's Avatar Comment 23 by tommcc

About monkeys crying wolf, I am sure I saw a David Attenborough wildlife where they did. If I remember right, a lower ranked member was waiting for his turn at a meal. He made the alarm call for a snake, I think. All the senior members shot off up the trees, while the one who cried wolf filled his face as quick as be could, before the others came back

Sat, 29 May 2010 12:53:26 UTC | #474677

majormarine's Avatar Comment 24 by majormarine

As a wildlife biologist I have observed Ravens, which being birds have a small brain, communicate with other members of the flock. If a raven saw a man with a gun they would make a very distinct sound and all the other ravens would immediately go silent and fly away quickly. When food was found be it a turtle laying eggs or a road kill they used different sounds of discovery. Not sophisticated but definitely different.

When an owl was located they again used a different call that I could recognize as "Hey there is an Owl over here lets get him" "Awl kuda tuc AWL AWL". This was sometimes repeated by other ravens as they converged on the hapless owl. There were times I could make the the same call and the Ravens would come in fast for a fight. I guess I was calling wolf to them. If I was not discovered as a human the birds would search for the owl for sometime before dispersing.

I have worked in the bush for more than 30 years and I have never doubted that the animals that I worked with used language (verbal, visual or chemical) to communicate.

Sat, 05 Jun 2010 19:26:42 UTC | #476798

DawkinsPwnsDummies's Avatar Comment 25 by DawkinsPwnsDummies

Fantastic!

Wed, 09 Jun 2010 01:41:48 UTC | #478332

steve_hopker's Avatar Comment 26 by steve_hopker

I'm no expert, but I do recall a wildlife programme last year about prairie dogs with predator specific alarm calls. If modern feathered dinosaurs (ravens) have this ability, then if there is a common ancestor from which animals using 'words' have all descended, that goes back a long way indeed! (Maybe parallel evolution?). Of course, as well as brain function, some vocal flexibility is required - crow family members being a prime example of that. So maybe parrots don't just talk parrot fashion!(?)

Wed, 16 Jun 2010 22:23:05 UTC | #480995

eccles's Avatar Comment 27 by eccles

Monkeys are more intelligent than the monkey they had in the White House: Geo. Dubya Bush. Apologies to monkeys.

Thu, 17 Jun 2010 02:36:34 UTC | #481029

insolita's Avatar Comment 28 by insolita

Comment to steve_hopker. It's interesting you raise the point about parrots. Go and look up Alex the African Grey Parrot. There are a lot of research papers and also video that's readily available. A lot of work was done with him and other greys but he was the most famous. He even helped to teach some of the other parrots he was with, telling them to "speak clearly"! It's absolutaly fascinating.

Thu, 17 Jun 2010 06:31:53 UTC | #481057

melisa1212's Avatar Comment 29 by melisa1212

This is great. Regards Articles

Sun, 20 Jun 2010 13:29:26 UTC | #481943

Romson's Avatar Comment 30 by Romson

Comment 27 by eccles :

Monkeys are more intelligent than the monkey they had in the White House: Geo. Dubya Bush. Apologies to monkeys.

LoL i totally agree.

Updated: Sun, 27 Jun 2010 03:22:23 UTC | #483770