Don’t try to win me over with bacon, monkey. I’m on to you.
A team of crack researchers (as opposed to researchers on crack; that’s us) led by Klaus Zuberbühler of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland claim to have discovered a language and syntax used by the Campbell’s monkeys of Ivory Coast. If true, this is the first time a species besides humans has been shown to form complete sentences.
Campbell’s monkeys have six different types of individual calls, each of which has a distinct meaning. What’s surprising, however, is that these monkeys actually string together multiple types of calls to create communications with entirely new meanings. [...] The team has identified the meanings of the individual calls, as well as how they can be combined to form completely different communications:
The “boom-boom” call invites other monkeys to come toward the male making the sound. Two booms can be combined with a series of “krak-oos,” with a meaning entirely different to that of either of its components. “Boom boom krak-oo krak-oo krak-oo” is the monkey’s version of “Timber!” – it warns of falling trees.
Combining the “boom-booms” and “krak-oos” with a third sound, “hok-oo,” warns monkeys of the presence of other monkey groups. [io9]
Zuberbühler’s team was only saved from monkey destruction by one thing: the monkeys couldn’t figure out how to tell each other to “get Zuberbühler”. They pointed and said, “Hey, kill that guy” in their monkey syntax, but there was a mixup and they thought “that guy” was the monkey standing next to him. Steve. Steve the monkey. He’ll be missed.
[Banner pic via thefrogman]