Monkeys change their “accent” in the presence of primates of another species

According to a study carried out in the Brazilian Amazon, where the yellow-handed tamarins live, these animals change their cry only in the presence of bicolor tamarins, monkeys of a similar species. This “accent change” would allow primates to make themselves understood by their neighbors to avoid possible conflicts. The explanations of

Let’s focus on… animal accents! In the heart of the Amazon jungle, researchers have been interested in the cries emitted by two species of monkeys whose territories partially overlap. Classified as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the bicolor tamarins – recognizable by their white chest contrasting with their brown hindquarters – survive only in a few areas around the city of Manaus (Brazil), where they are forced to share much of their habitat with golden-handed tamarins that occupy most of the northeastern Brazilian Amazon.

Animal Intelligence (AI) has nothing to envy to Artificial Intelligence

We’ve known for a long time that when territories of closely related species intersect geographically, there’s a good chance we’ll observe interesting evolutionary trends. “says Dr Jacob Dunn, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Anglia Ruskin (England) and co-author of the study published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. If some species that share the same environment diverged from one another during evolution – such as the Galapagos finches, whose beaks of different size and shape allow each to have access to a specific food resource (flowers, seeds, insects, etc.) otherwise, for converge to similar traits. When analyzing the cries emitted by primates to express their presence, the researchers observed that the golden-handed tamarins – endowed with greater vocal flexibility – adopted a ” accent close to that of its two-tone neighbors, and that’s only in territories shared with them.

Birds of the same species have accents depending on where they live.

Michel Kreutzer – Ethologist

As these tamarin species depend on similar resources, changing their “accent” in this way can help these small primates more easily identify themselves in the dense forest and potentially avoid conflict. “, interprets Dr. J. Dunn. Prove, if necessary, that AI (Animal Intelligence) has nothing to envy to AI (Artificial Intelligence)! However, corner convergence was observed only in primary forest and not in secondary forest patches. [forêt ayant repoussé après avoir été détruite ou exploitée par l’homme, NDLR]. Less dense, the latter would be more favorable to sound propagation, which would avoid the need for “accent change” to be understood. Hence the importance of taking into account the environmental context in the analysis.

Accents in birds, mammals, fish…

If this study is, according to the authors themselves, “ the first to show asymmetric convergence [manifestée par une seule des deux espèces, NDLR] cries in primates », the existence of accents in the animal world was, on the other hand, already proven: « Birds of the same species have accents depending on where they live », confides Michel Kreutzer, ethologist at the University of Nanterre, in science and future. ” Blue whales in the Southern Hemisphere do not produce the same vocal signals as those in the Northern Hemisphere adds Flore Samaran, professor-researcher at the National School of Advanced Techniques – Brittany. There are even accents in cod, according to a British study (2016). A good reason to listen!


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