1 Tahrcountry Musings: Prairie dogs- The Chatterbox of Animal Kingdom

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Prairie dogs- The Chatterbox of Animal Kingdom

I read this fascinating piece of information about Prairie dogs In Telegraph.UK

Biologists studying Prairie dogs have discovered that they have one of the most sophisticated languages in the animal kingdom, rivalled only by humans. Till now the belief was that mankind's closest relatives, primates, and mammals such as dolphins were likely to be the most talkative species after humans. The surprising discovery was made by Professor Con Slobodchikoff, a biologist at Northern Arizona University.

Prairie dogs are highly social animals and live in large colonies called towns. The town can span hundreds of acres of the grasslands of North America. When a threat was perceived they used loud panic calls to alert other members of the colony.

The bark of Prairie dogs contains surprising amounts of information that can describe colours, size, directions of travel and even speed. They used specific calls for different types of predator. As an example Professor Slobodchikoff says “a human walking through the prairie dog town with a blue shirt produces a call that is subtly different from the same human wearing a yellow shirt”.

Details about his path breaking research can be gleaned from Natural World – Prairie Dogs: Talk of the Town to be broadcast on BBC Two on Wednesday 3 February at 8pm

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