The Hyrax Sings In A Regional Dialect

The adorable little critters known as hyrax may look like they don't have a lot going on in their tiny little heads, but it turns out they are master communicators who use a complex language complete with regional dialects.

Here's how their masterful use of language was discovered:
By recording hundreds of the animals’ songs and applying clever mathematics, researchers discovered that differences in note arrangement, or syntax, in hyrax songs vary as the distance increases between colonies — a surprising occurrence of dialect.

“Dialect is usually seen only in animals with sophisticated vocalizations, like primates, bats and cetaceans. Such animals can copy and improvise on what they hear, which are very, very core building blocks of language,” said zoologist Arik Kershenbaum at the University of Haifa in Israel.

“It’s not obvious to human ears, but hyraxes also appear to have these building blocks,” said Kershenbaum, who co-authored the study of hyrax songs Apr. 18 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

So, the next time you spot one of these fuzzy little critters, you'll know that they're much more than an oversized rodent, and may be talking about you behind your back!

Link  --image credit: Arik Kershenbaum

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