Babbler Birds In Australia To Shed Light On Human Language

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Babbler Birds In Australia To Shed Light On Human Language

The ability to rearrange different meaningless sounds to form meaningful messages is one of the things that set humans apart from other animals. Now researchers have found a bird that has some impressive language skills. Scientists studying the chestnut-crowned babbler birds found that these social birds can also string together meaningless sounds in their calls to form meaningful messages.

Other birds produce different sounds, but without changing the meaning

Findings of the study were published in the latest issue of PLOS Biology. These roughly 2-ounce babbler birds live in the Australian Outback. Scientists have known for years that birds have the ability to put together different sounds for the songs their sing. However, these sounds did not hold a meaning, said lead author Sabrina Engesser of the University of Zurich. Simply changing the arrangement of sounds within a song doesn’t alter its message.

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However, babbler birds don’t sing. Researchers found that the bird calls had different patterns in certain circumstances. Sabrina Engesser said the study suggests that the capacity to rearrange meaningless sounds to create new signals exists outside of humans. A major question in the evolution of language is th