Chasing Doctor Dolittle: Learning the Language of Animals

Chasing Doctor Dolittle: Learning the Language of Animals

Con Slobodchikoff

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 031261179X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


"Slobodchikoff's ground-breaking research" (Jonathan Balcombe) shows us that animals have much to teach us about language

Groundbreaking research has been done teaching animals human language, but what about the other way around? Studies have shown that lizards, squid, monkeys, and birds are talking to each other, communicating information about food, predators, squabbles, and petty jealousies. These animal languages are unique and highly adaptive. By exploring them, we come to appreciate the basis of our own languages; understanding or even "speaking" them allows us to get closer to the other species who inhabit this planet with us. The implications of animals having language are enormous. It has been one of the last bastions separating "us" from "them."

Slobodchikoff's studies of the communication system of prairie dogs over twenty-five years have attracted a considerable amount of attention from the media, including a one-hour documentary on his work produced by BBC and Animal Planet.

In Chasing Doctor Dolittle, he posits that the difference is one of degree, not the vast intellectual chasm that philosophers have talked about for millennia. Filled with meticulous research, vivid examples and daring conclusions, this book will challenge the reader's assumptions and open up new possibilities of understanding our fellow creatures.

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there were lots of rocks and lots of rodents, but no people. It was fortunate that I did that because my friend determined that the rattlesnake was pregnant and soon would have had many baby snakes crawling around for me to step on. As we can see, several different types of information can be encoded into alarm calls. Probably the most useful message can be the name or type of the predator. “Snake!” is a lot more useful message than “Eek!” Yet I’m sure you’ll agree that “Black mamba!” or

while as they carried bits and pieces of leaves that they had cut from surrounding trees, carrying these leaves down into their nest where other workers would plant fungus spores on the leaves. The fungus that grows on the leaves is the main food of the ants, which gives rise to the notion that these ants are really farmers growing a crop that they eat just like human farmers grow crops. I walked along the ant trail for a little bit, watching ants carrying bits of leaves that were perhaps twice

causes workers to freeze on the comb. The sound that is produced has a frequency of about 380 Hertz (well within the range of human hearing). It seems to signal that there are competing bees from another hive or predators at the food source indicated by the bee doing the figure-eight dance and that the dancing bee should stop its dance. Honeybees can use the figure-eight dance as a way of communicating about potential sites for nests, as well as for food. In the spring, the colony reproduces by

its strap and hit the snake. The man thinks that I am taking a picture of the cobra without his permission and starts to yell at me in words that I, not speaking Arabic, do not understand. My Moroccan host tries to explain to the man that I mean no harm and quickly pulls me away from there toward a narrow street that is filled with baskets full of foods and spices. All of these baskets are a riot of color. Spices are red, yellow, brown. The foods are different kinds of vegetables, fruits, and

have heard, and she is singing it in its entirety. One of our most romantic evenings was when we were driving from Sedona to Flagstaff along the majestic rock formations of Oak Creek Canyon in Arizona. The moon was just coming up, lighting up the rocks with a silvery glow and casting a magical spell on everything around us. I mentioned something about the light of the silvery moon. Instantly, my wife burst into song. During the entire hour that it took us to complete that drive, she was singing

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