All / Ethology / Questions & Answers

Q: Are there any non-human animals we can communicate with as well as they can communicate within their own species?

Short answer: No.
Long answer: About 15000 years ago, dogs were domesticated. Within this period, they developed language skills—to this day they remain the only animal that has evolved beside humans, developing a fundamental bond between animal and man. Julianne Kaminski, a cognitive psychologist who studies dogs, explains that “even our closest relatives, the great apes, cant do what Betsy the Collie can do—hear a word only once or twice and know that the acoustic pattern stands for something”
Our fascination with animals (and communicating with animals) is partly fueled by our desire to recognize and identify our similarities and our dissimilarities. Because this is impossible, scientists and behaviorists have developed assorted tests to determine the various forms of intelligence and language capability in other species. These tests have opened many windows.
Lascaux-France-Cave-Painting-2-c15000BC
For example, it is now generally accepted that the African Gray Parrot is capable of counting, recognizing color, shape, texture, and size and even has an abstract concept of zero. Bonobos acquire language simultaneously, sheep recognize faces, and dolphins are experts at mimicry, vocabulary, syntax, and even creative thought. (Inside Animal Minds). Chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans have even been taught a primitive form of sign language, although this endeavor remains under sharp skepticism, and often contempt, by most scientists.

 

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