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Earth Notes - Prairie Dog Language

From: KNAU
Length: 02:00

Prairie dogs are a talkative bunch. New research suggests that they have a lot to say. Read the full description.

Earthnotes_small Prairie dogs are a talkative bunch. Maybe you?ve heard them barking, at high pitch, before scampering into their dens. It turns out those yips and ?eeks? aren?t just shouts; they?re really messages that mean things like ?short human in green shirt? or ?coyote.?

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Piece Description

Prairie dogs are a talkative bunch. Maybe you?ve heard them barking, at high pitch, before scampering into their dens. It turns out those yips and ?eeks? aren?t just shouts; they?re really messages that mean things like ?short human in green shirt? or ?coyote.?

Transcript

Prairie dogs are a talkative bunch. Maybe you?ve heard them barking, at high pitch, before scampering into their dens. It turns out those yips and ?eeks? aren?t just shouts; they?re really messages that mean things like ?short human in green shirt? or ?coyote.?

That?s what Northern Arizona University biology professor Con Slobodchikoff (SLAH?-bahd-chi- cough) discovered after studying prairie dog communication for the past 20 years.

He?s recorded prairie dog calls when a coyote approaches or when a person wearing a particular shirt moves through the colony. When the recorded calls are played back, the animals respond as if that particular threat was near, and not another threat.

Slobodchikoff has also analyzed prairie dog calls by running them through a sonogram ? a computer-generated image that depicts sound frequencies. It turns out that what sounds to us like single calls are...
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