Chimp Chat Recordings Reveal Wide Range of Sounds
This chimp named Santino from the Furuvik Zoo in Sweden is known to have a temper. He throws rocks at zoo patrons who annoy him.Wikimedia Commons
More than 10 hours of chimp calls have just been cataloged, digitized and made available online, according to a paper in the latest issue of the journal Scientific Data.
The sound files, now stored in the Macaulay Library at Cornell University, come from the largest data set of audio recordings of free-living, young chimps. Frans Plooij of the International Research-institute on Infant Studies, who authored the new paper, and the late Hetty van de Rijt-Plooij made the recordings when they were at Gombe National Park, Tanzania, from 1971 to 1973.
The audio files feature the "grunts," "hoocalls," "barks," "squeals," and other vocalizations of 17 young chimps. The recordings have not yet been analyzed for their meaning, so the most extensive attempt to understand chimpanzee calls remains unfinished. The researchers did, however, rate the calls from one to five stars, with five given to the highest quality recordings. The files selected for this list all received five stars.
Here, a dominant male chimp works himself up into a vocal frenzy, becoming ever louder and punctuating his vocalizations by banging on a rock.
A chimp in repose.Rennett Stowe, Wikimedia Commons
A whimper turns into a frenzied call and then calms back into a whimper in this recording.
A group of chimpanzees. Klaus Post, Wikimedia Commons
Ranging from submissive-sounding whimpers to aggressive-seeming grunts, the calls of this young chimp group demonstrate many different vocalizations within a short time.
Renowned primatologist Jane Goodall pant-hooting with a chimpanzee.Michael Neugebauer
One of the best-known and studied chimpanzee calls is the pant-hoot. Scientists suspect it communicates excitement, as chimps may emit the call when they encounter yummy fruit in trees, when they meet valued members of their community and at other times. The chimps likely use the call to identify themselves, but they probably contain other information too.
A baby chimp.Michael Neugebauer
A very young-sounding chimp lets out a breathy call.
A chimp showing its teeth. Michael Neugebauer
Vocalizations from a group of chimps silence as a young voice emits a scream-like call over and over again.
A chimp with a man at the Beijing Zoo. Wikimedia Commons
Parts of this vocalization sound like they could have been made by a man laughing maniacally.
A chimp family at Noichi Zoological Park. Wikimedia Commons
Each chimp has its own unique voice, as this recording demonstrates. It's easy to distinguish one individual from another, based on the chimp's tone, loudness, style and more.
A chimp in a fig tree.Wikimedia Commons
In forest canopies, chimps communicate with each other over very long distances. This recording captures chimps vocalizing from a distance with a group that's closer to the microphone.
A human baby crying. Kyle Flood, Wikimedia Commons
Listen for the call at the end of this recording that sounds like a human baby crying. Could the chimpanzee be attempting to mobilize a response from an adult?
Researchers have not yet fully translated chimp speak, but since chimpanzees are our closest living relatives, there's a good chance that we'll learn about the origins of human communication as we decipher chimpanzee calls.