Zoo chimpanzees get to grips with language research
NEW research into the language of chimpanzees has been undertaken at Edinburgh Zoo.
Katie Slocombe, a PhD student at St Andrews University, spent a year at the zoo studying the language and behaviour of the chimps.
The work with the 11 chimps, which range in age from four-year-old infant Liberius to 40-year-old Ricky, is aimed at deciphering the animals’ language.
It was followed up by a study of the animals in the wild, listening to chimps in the Budongo Forest, Uganda.
The research is being led by Dr Klaus Zuberbhler, a psychologist at the University of St Andrews and a highly regarded world authority on primate behaviour.
Previous studies have shown chimps produce specific calls in response to events such as the appearance of a predator, an evolutionary survival trait.
There is also evidence to show the animals use language in a social context, with some believing they can use reference sounds in their calls which are readily identified by all the animals in that group as representing a specific object or event.
The results will be presented in the talk given by the pair at Edinburgh Zoo tomorrow. Tickets cost 5 and the talk starts at 7.30pm.
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