I do wonder that, yes! I’m sure they have some understanding of things like tone. Though we hear noise, our research has shown that what the baboons are saying is meaningful, but that took a long time to find out. I don’t think I would be able to work out what they were saying just by listening to them, no matter how long I stayed with them for!
If I won the prize this is the kind of thing I would like to investigate – playing individual baboon noises to humans to see whether people can guess what they mean without having heard them before. My guess is that they have a tone we should be able to pick up on 🙂