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30th-Nov-2005 06:54 pm - Monkeys have accents too, experts say
TO the untrained ear monkeys of a certain species may all sound the same, but Japanese researchers have found that, like human beings, they actually have an accent depending on where they live.

The finding, the first of its kind, will appear in the December edition of a German scientific journal Ethology to be published on December 5, the primate researchers said.

"Differences between chattering by monkeys are like dialects of human beings," said Nobuo Masataka, professor of ethology at Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute.

The research team analyzed voice tones of two groups of the same species of primates, the Japanese Yakushima macaque also known as Macaca fuscata yakui, between 1990 and 2000.

One group was formed by 23 monkeys living on the southern Japanese island of Yakushima, and the other group comprised 30 descendants from the same tribe moved from the island to Mount Ohira, central Japan, in 1956.

The result showed that the island group had a tone about 110 hertz higher on average than the one taken to central Japan.

Monkeys on Yakushima Island have an accent with a higher tone because tall trees on the island tend to block their voice, Masataka said.

"On the other hand, monkeys on Mount Ohira do not have to gibber with a high tone as trees there are low," he said. "Each group adopted their own accent depending upon their environment."

This suggests differences in voice tones are not caused by genes, Masataka said, adding the results "may lead to a clue to the origin of human language."

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3rd-Nov-2005 08:51 pm - Monkey Math Mirrors Our Own
Bjorn Carey

If you show someone a mouse and a cat and ask which is smaller, they'll quickly reply, "the mouse." Ask which is bigger, and it takes most people slightly longer to respond.

Conversely, if the two animals are large, such as a cow and an elephant, the typical person will be quicker at saying the elephant is larger than saying the cow is smaller.

This rule, known to scientists from actual tests on people, is known as "semantic congruity," and it also holds true for comparing numbers and distances.

Until now, scientists thought the rule was rooted in our language abilities. But in a recent study by researchers at Duke University, a group of monkeys have shown a similar ability to tell the difference between large and small groups of dots.

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