Chimps Can Learn To Communicate With Each Other, New Study Shows
Move somewhere new, and it’s not long before you pick up some local slang. As it turns out, chimpanzees might be able to do something similar.
Maybe we’re not so different after all.
When a group of chimps from Beekse Bergen Safari Park in the Netherlands was sent to live with the chimps at the Edinburgh Zoo in 2010, they each had their own distinct grunts and calls that represented “apple.”
But a new study from scientists at the University of York and University of Zurich that was published in Current Biology shows how, over time, the Dutch chimps changed their calls as they learned to vocalize “apple” in a way similar to their host chimps in Scotland.
Here, for example, is a chimp named Frek vocalizing the word “apple” when he first arrived in 2010:
Compare Frek’s high-pitched cries to the vocalizations used by one of the locals, a chimp named Lucy:
As the chimps intermingled, the grunts for “apple” became similar. Three years later, Frek’s version matched Lucy’s: