Animal Smarts

Chimps, Zebrafish and Birds Communicate Like We Do




Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

Chimps, orangutans and bonobo apes are now known to be capable of understanding what others are thinking and recognize human thoughts, an ability once thought to be impossible. A team led by Christopher Krupenye, of Duke University, had apes take part in a visual experiment where they watched videos on a monitor while their gaze was being tracked. They discovered an anticipation of events that went beyond the visual cues presented.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has determined that zebrafish are social animals, similar to humans and other mammals—they form friendships, experience positive emotions and have individual personalities. The group advises people that eat fish or keep them as pets to consider the moral implications.

Honey hunters in sub-Saharan Africa have a unique form of communication with honeyguide birds that fly ahead to point out beehives which the hunters raid, leaving wax for the birds to eat. A study in the journal Science reports that they listen for a specific call made by their human collaborators.

Dr. Claire Spottiswoode, of the University of Cambridge, in England, and University of Cape Town, in South Africa, observes, “It seems to be a two-way conversation between our own species and a wild animal.”


This article appears in the December 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Eat Right to Sleep Well

Rather than popping a pill, eating certain foods can kick-start hormones that help us get a long, deep night’s sleep.

We Need Clean Waters

Efforts are underway around the country to make polluted waterways clean again and to instill local appreciation for their many helpful roles.

Peter Gros on Preserving Wild Nature

The wildlife expert explains why we should appreciate wolves, snakes and bats and what he finds encouraging about an enlightened focus on wildlife protection.

Running with the Kids

Families with children as young as 5 easily bond when they mindfully run together at a fun pace.

Livable Communities We Love

Across the country, cities from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to Portland are finding fresh new ways to create engaging street life for residents while eco-upgrading their green spaces, services and infrastructure.

Add your comment: