How do primates communicate?

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Name: Mandeep .K. Poonia

Seminar Leader: Professor Roy Ellen

Seminar Group: 5

Module: SE302

How do primates communicate?

Communication plays an important part in all living animals, it is a tool for social interaction among the same and in some cases different species.  People usually associate communication with sounds, since this is the most utilised form of communication.  Primates use sound as a primary source of communication e.g. baboons’ grunt like pigs, hanuman langurs’ ‘whoop’ and howler monkeys roar very loudly making them being able to be heard from over a kilometre.  The sounds made by primates can be described effortlessly but we cannot determine what is being exactly said by them. Strange facial expressions, genital displays and urine washing displays play an important role in communication but complicate the issue of understanding primate communication.  If communication can be understood we would have a better understanding of social diversity among primates e.g. discovering patterns of social ranks needs knowledge of how primates signal their status to others.  Vocalisations, facial expressions, odours and body postures together show information about the primate itself and its environment.   Communication plays an important role in survival of primates, ecological information about location of food resources or predators can be exchanged.  Unlike humans, primates lack a language but a form of communication is vital for all animals, primates lack the necessary vocal apparatus e.g. mobile position of tongue and larynx which is important in forming sounds that make up the language of humans. The lack of language in primates does not mean they lack the ability to think or communicate, research into communication systems has lead to information on cognitive processes, but it has evoked many ethical issues concerning their well being of them in research.

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Communication is a two way process, there is one signaller and one receiver.  There are four components in communication systems these are: signal, motivation, meaning and function (Smith, 1977) 1  Signal is a form of communication, it includes the senses e.g. touch, body postures.  When a juvenile primate feels threatened crouches down, pulls lips back, making short grunts as an unrelated adult approaches.  If the adult returns grunts and touches his shoulder the juvenile returns to his previous activity, because he has been reassured no threat is present.  Meaning derived from the signaller depends on the interpretation of it and ...

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