Wednesday, May 25, 2011

When Animals Tell Stories

Bottle-nosed Dolphin
Are humans the only species on Earth to tell stories?  I was at the zoo today and couldn't help wondering what animals "talk" about.  We know lots of animals communicate with each other.  Here are a few fun facts about that communication:

  •  Honey bees tell each other a story through dance when they find a new source of food.  The "waggle dance" is famous for letting one bee tell others where she found food, how much food is available, and how they can get some too.
  • Ants use pheromones to direct other ants to food sources.  When two ants greet each other, their antennae touch and they share loads of information, including where they've been, if food is available, and if they are hungry.  Sometimes one ant will even feed her "sister" after they touch antennae!
  • If a raven thinks another raven is watching him gather food, the first raven will actually try to hide the food from the second raven!
  • Dolphins have been taught to read hundreds of symbols and can tell a written question apart from a statement.  They know placing words in different orders changes the meaning of the sentence.  Scientists have taught dolphins to use an underwater keyboard to communicate about toys, and those dolphins have taught other dolphins the "game." 
  • Rhesus monkeys have vocal systems similar to humans and can imitate human facial expressions.
  • Wolves, lions, and even monkeys plan and coordinate hunts together.

So, animals definitely "speak" with each other, but do they tell stories?  What do you think?


mgski said...

Animal communication is just so fascinating. I'm tempted to draw the line at stories, but who knows?!

Thanks for your note today, Carla. I'll still be visiting!

storyqueen said...

I think those ravens need to learn to share!!

What an interesting topic.


GigglesandGuns said...

I'm like the raven when it comes to my chocolate stash ;0)
Fascinating facts here.

Carla said...

Mqski, I'd be surprised to find out animals tell stories, but I think it's fascinating to see ways they communicate!

Lol, Shelley! Though, I also tell my kids that if they have a toy they don't want to share they need to put it away in their room. ;)

Hah! GigglesandGuns, but now we all know! That reminds me I have a chocolate bar in the freezer...


Grillyfish said...

What a lovely post, I am sure animals tell each other stories - they are smart enough to talk to each other so they must be smart enough to entertain each other too!

Anecdotally I know my dogs talk to each other because I can give one of them a treat in the kitchen whilst the other is outside. The treated then goes outside and within 2 minutes both come in tails wagging and eyes expectant!

Michelle Teacress said...

It makes sense. They've got to talk about something besides food while they sit around all day! :)

Carla said...

Grillyfish, What a fun story! I can just imagine the conversation... "Guess what I have? Do you want one? Let's go get some more!"

Michelle, I would definitely get bored if all I talked about was food!


Car Title Loans said...

I would think that they would tell stories to each other, or I have been watching far too many Disney shows. If we're able to, I think they are able to- especially a dolphin. I mean, they're freakishly intelligent and compassionate, so why wouldn't they?


Misha said...

Hmm... that's an interesting thought. I'd like to believe that they can tell stories. Could be my Disney fan-girl side, though.


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