A team of researchers carried out a linguistic analysis. As per which, it was found that monkey calls have a more refined structure than considered before.
The researchers said that monkeys of the same species when present in different geographic regions use alarm calls differently to warn about the approaching predator.
Study’s lead researcher, Philippe Schlenker, a Senior Researcher at Institut Jean-Nicod within France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), said, “Our findings show that Campbell’s monkeys have a distinction between roots and suffixes, and that their combination allows the monkeys to describe both the nature of a threat and its degree of danger”.
The team having linguists and primatologists assessed alarm calls of Campbell’s monkeys at two different sites, the Tai forest in Ivory Coast and Tiwai Island in Sierra Leone. It was noted that monkey predators on both the sites were different.
On Tiwai Island, monkeys face threat from eagles. In the Tai Forest, the primates are threatened by eagles and leopards. In field experiments, transcriptions of the monkey calls were gathered, which involved playbacks of predator calls like eagle shrieks and leopard growls.
The researchers noticed greater complexity in expression and a difference in alarm calls between two locations. As per linguists, the calls make a difference between roots and suffixes and the combination of them, makes the monkeys to explain the nature and degree of the threat.
To cite an example, ‘hok’ warns of serious aerial threats and on the other hand, ‘hok-oo’ can be used for differnet aerial disturbances and with the suffix ‘oo’ it serves as a kind of attenuator. One more thing that the researchers noticed was that the calls were differently used in both the locations.
As per study researchers, the research must initiate the development of a form of ‘primate linguistics’.