About the episode
Male chimpanzees each have their own style of drumming which they use to send messages to each other over great distances. But sometimes they intentionally play something low-key, research shows.
Researchers from the University of St Andrews dove into Budongo Forest in Uganda and recorded the drumming skills of several monkeys. They analyzed the audio extensively and saw from the patterns that the animals each had a unique recognizable style. Where some grooves were angular like rock music and other monkeys seemed to prefer a jazz vibe with lots of variation.
What they also heard was that chimpanzees didn’t always use their own style. It was mostly used when they were on the road and there was some distance between members of their own group. Sometimes there was drumming, but it was a more general pattern. Something that can be useful if, for example, you’re in hostile territory and you don’t want to reveal your identity but want to let us know where you are. So the animals really seem to make the choice whether or not to use their own unique rhythm.
In follow-up research, researchers want to look at the same thing, but in other chimpanzee communities. Also in places where there are not the right trees to plant. They already have ideas on how to solve this problem. Probably by hitting rocks. Like real rock music.
Learn more here: Chimpanzee drumbeats send social media messages across the jungle. The paper is here: The form and function of foothill drumming in chimpanzees.
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