Goats can change accents: Research

Goats can change accents: Research
Published: 18 February 2012 (1416 Views)
British Scientists found baby goats can change their calls depending on the group they are in, effectively developing accents.

Until now it was thought – out of all the mammals – only bats and whales came close to our own vocal and language flexibility.

A team of leading British research scientists studied four groups of pygmy goats, who were all full or half-siblings.

Their different vocal sounds were initially recorded at one week old – when they typically stay hidden away from predators with their siblings.

They were then monitored again a month later, as they form social groups with other baby goats the same age.

The scientists found that even unrelated goats began to mimic each other's voice.

Dr Elodie Briefer said: "We discovered that genetically related kids produced similar calls, which is really not that surprising.

"But the calls of kids who were raised in the same social groups were also similar to each other, and became more alike as the kids grew older.

"This suggests that goat kids modify their calls according to their social surroundings, effectively developing similar 'accents'."

The team suspect the existence of goat accents could provide a vital insight into the early development of human language and speech.

Dr Briefer and Dr Alan McElligott, from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences in London, also believe mammals may be more sophisticated than previously believed.

Writing today in the science journal Animal Behaviour, Dr McElligott said: "The research also highlights the important cognitive abilities that some of our domestic animals possess, and which have remained undetected until now.

"Improved knowledge of their behaviour and cognition provides essential information for improving animal welfare."

- Mirror

Tags: Goats, accents,
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