Sociality predicts orangutan vocal phenotype | Nature Ecology & Evolution

In humans, individuals’ social setting determines which and how language is acquired. Social seclusion experiments show that sociality also guides vocal development in songbirds and marmoset monkeys, but absence of similar great ape data has been interpreted as support to saltational notions for language origin, even if such laboratorial protocols are unethical with great apes. Here we characterize the repertoire entropy of orangutan individuals and show that in the wild, different degrees of sociality across populations are associated with different ‘vocal personalities’ in the form of distinct regimes of alarm call variants. In high-density populations, individuals are vocally more original and acoustically unpredictable but new call variants are short lived, whereas individuals in low-density populations are more conformative and acoustically consistent but also exhibit more complex call repertoires. Findings provide non-invasive evidence that sociality predicts vocal phenotype in a wild great ape. They prove false hypotheses that discredit great apes as having hardwired vocal development programmes and non-plastic vocal behaviour. Social settings mould vocal output in hominids besides humans. Analysis of wild orangutan calls demonstrates that different degrees of sociality across populations are associated with different ‘vocal personalities’.
— Read on www.nature.com/articles/s41559-022-01689-z

Author: sasysquatchgirl

A Bigfoot and beyond blogger and Nature Photographer from New England. I spend a majority of my free time in the woods exploring for any signs the hairy man has been around and snapping some pics along the way. So if you’re following this blog, you’ll be the first to know if I see him...

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