• Question: When studying the baboons do you ever wonder what they think we are saying, and is all they here from us noise like we here noise from them? Or do they here individual 'words' from us?

    Asked by nicollmanimal to Suzanne on 28 Jun 2013.
    • Photo: Suzanne Harvey

      Suzanne Harvey answered on 28 Jun 2013:

      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 🙂