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Chimpanzees Move from the Netherlands to Scotland, Adopt a Local Accent


(Photo: Jonas Löwgren)

Nine chimpanzees who grew up in a Dutch safari park would issue what BBC News calls “an excited, high-pitched” sound when asking for apples. In 2010, when they arrived at their new home in a zoo in Edinburgh, Scotland, they found that phrase ineffective. Scottish apes apparently use “a disinterested grunt.” But within 3 years, these chimpanzees were grunting the Scottish way. This indicates that chimpanzees can use grunts as human words--changeable expressions representing concepts:

The findings, reported in the journal Current Biology, suggest that when chimp grunts refer to objects, they can function in a surprisingly similar way to human words - instead of simply being governed by how the chimp feels about the object.

Indeed, our ability to learn new "words" from our peers might date back to a shared ancestor with chimpanzees, some six million years ago.

Of course, we'll only know that they're true Scotsmen if they wear their kilts regimental style.

-via Adrienne Crezo


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